Kaljulaid calls Russia's attack on Ukrainian naval vessels war in Europe

Hugh Fox
November 28, 2018

According to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, the Ukrainian military started shelling residential areas of the self-proclaimed DNR, as Ukrainian vessels challenged Russia at the Kerch Strait.

Ukrainian troops have been fighting Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine since 2014, a conflict that has left over 10,000 dead, but fighting has eased since a truce in 2015.

At the United Nations and in statements issued late on November 26, Western leaders condemned what they described as Russia's "outrageous" violation of Ukraine's sovereignty as well as global maritime treaties, and called on Moscow to immediately release the detained sailors.

One of them parroted the version of events put forward by Russian authorities, saying, "The actions of the Ukrainian armed vessels in the Kerch Strait had a provocative character".

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said Stoltenberg expressed the us -led military alliance's "full support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, including its full navigational rights in its territorial waters under worldwide law".

The head of Ukraine's SBU security service, Vasyl Hrytsak, confirmed Russian reports that members of the service were on board the boats, but added that it was a "routine counter-intelligence mission" of a type that the Russian navy carried out regularly too.

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President Petro Poroshenko said the extraordinary measure was needed to strengthen the country's defenses as there was the "extremely serious" threat of a land invasion from Russian Federation.

But Russian officials and state media cast the incident and the imposition of martial law as an attempt to shore up Poroshenko's own sagging popularity ahead of a presidential election in March. The Russian government has accused Poroshenko of somehow orchestrating the entire incident in order to postpone the election. The two Ukrainian naval ships and the tugboat were trying to travel from the port of Odessa to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.

Video footage from the clash, obtained and released by Arsen Avakov, the Ukrainian minister of internal affairs, appears to show the exact moment a suspected Russian ship slams into the side of a Ukrainian tugboat in the shallow waters between Russia and the Ukraine.

United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley on Monday condemned Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian ships as an "outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory" and warned the Kremlin against further escalation.

"Russia has to take the security of the bridge extremely seriously", Sleboda said, "particularly when Ukraine has called to destroy it".

But he insisted it was necessary because what happened in the Kerch Strait between Crimea and the Russian mainland "was no accident", adding that "this was not the culmination of it yet".

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Putin spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel early Tuesday, expressing "serious concern" about what martial law in Ukraine might entail.

By mid-afternoon Monday, there had been no response from the White House or the State Department to the crisis, but Haley said she was speaking after consulting with President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. "At the same time, we have to work for de-escalation". The other three regions border the Black Sea or Sea of Azov close to Crimea.

Russian Federation said the vessels had ignored calls to stop, sparking military action.

"We do not like what's happening either way", Trump said, "and hopefully it will get straightened out".

Similarly EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic condemned Russian aggression towards Ukraine at a press briefing on Monday.

A statement from the UN secretary general urged both sides "to take steps without delay to contain this incident and reduce tensions through all available peaceful means in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations".

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The Kremlin reacted strongly to Ukraine's declaration of martial law, with Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, telling reporters Tuesday that it might trigger a flare-up in hostilities in eastern Ukraine.

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