Ukraine is considering imposing martial law.
26 Noviembre 2018 15:22
Russian troops seized three Ukrainian vessels on Sunday, stoking tensions between the two countries. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenkohas is urging parliament to impose martiallaw, which will give the government more control, allowing them to limit freedoms otherwise protected by the constitution. The Ukrainian parliament is set to vote on the decision today.
The clash took place in the Black Sea: three Ukrainian vessels – two gunboats and a tugboat – were travelling from Odessa to Mariupol. The Kerch Strait is the only waterway connecting the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and is a lifeline for Ukraine. Earlier this year, Russia opened The Crimean Bridge across this waterway, to connect the country’s mainland with the annexed peninsula of Crimea. Ukraine has described the construction of the bridge as a violation of international law. Both the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov are shared territorial waters under a 2003 treaty.
Russia and Ukraine have given conflicting accounts of what happened over the weekend. According to Ukraine, as its three vessels were travelling across the Black Sea towards the Kerch Strait on Sunday, Russian ships tried to intercept, and rammed their tugboat. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry Arsen Avakov posted this video of a Russian border ship ramming a tug boat with the following tweet:
The intercepted video was shot by Russians, the orders are audible - this will be submitted as evidence to the international court! Aggression! We are teaming up and waiting for the reaction of friendly countries.
According to CNN, a Russian commander can be heard ordering his crew to 'slam him from the right,' 'squeeze him' and warning those on board to 'hold on' before the moment of impact.
The Ukrainian ships continued on. According to Ukraine, the Russians opened fire. When the Ukrainian vessels reached The Crimean Bridge, they were blocked by a Russian tanker that had been placed underneath. The ships were then seized and towed to the Crimean port of Kerch. According to Ukraine, 23 nationals were on board and six crew members were injured.
Russia claims that the vessels breached Russian waters and that they received no warning. Ukraine says that they notified Russia in advance that the ships would be sailing through the area. On Monday afternoon, Poroshenko demanded Russia release the crew members being held.
EU foreign affairs spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic has also condemned the aggression towards Ukraine and called on Russia to 'immediately release the vessels and the crew.'
Opposition law-makers believe Poroshenko could be using the conflict for his own personal gain. He is expected to lose the elections set to take place in March 2019. However, if martial law was in place at the time, elections could not be held and he would hold on to his current position.