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Russia-Ukraine Tension: Martial Law Expected After Sea Clash with Russia

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Local Editor

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he will propose declaring martial law in the wake of an altercation in the Black Sea that saw Russian military seize Ukrainian vessels for breaching Russian territorial waters.

On Sunday, three Ukrainan vessels were sailing between two Ukrainian ports: from Odessa in the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Azov Sea.

The only waterway that connects these is the Kerch Strait between Crimea and mainland Russia. Kiev says it notified Moscow in advance that its navy ships would be sailing through the area. Moscow denies that it was given proper warning.

While both Russia and Ukraine have freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait under a 2003 treaty, there are detailed technical rules on how vessels should pass through the narrow, complex waterway.

Because all traffic in the area is controlled by the Crimean sea port of Kerch, every ship should contact the facility, report her route and destination, and receive permission to sail through the Strait.

Russian ships opened fire to stop the three Ukrainian boats after they ignored "legal demands to stop" and performed "dangerous maneuvers," said the Russian Security Service [FSB]. The ships were then seized and towed to the Crimean port of Kerch.

On Monday afternoon, the Ukrainian leader demanded Russia releases the sailors and ships as a “first step to deescalate the situation in the Azov Sea.” Russian officials earlier said that several sailors were injured in the incident on the Black Sea and were taken to hospital.

Moscow has not responded to Poroshenko’s statement so far.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team