Moscow / United Nations – Russia has detained three Ukrainian ships that entered the Kerch Strait off Crimea coast. The Russian action has lead to tensions sharply escalating between Russia and Ukraine, which has placed its military on high alert. Also, an emergency United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting has been called owing to concerns over a conflict likely ensuing in the region as a result of the aggressive actions the two countries.
Two gunboats and a tugboat of the Ukrainian Navy entered the Azov Sea through the Kerch Strait near Crimea. Ukraine has claimed that the ships were on their visit to the Mariupol Sea Port in the marine region. The Ukrainian Navy clarified that the Russian agencies were informed about the visit beforehand. Nevertheless, Russia dismissed the Ukrainian claims.
‘The Ukrainian ships entered the Russian maritime limits without prior information. The ships neither followed the necessary protocol nor left the Russian waters despite Russia’s warnings. Therefore, an action was taken against them,’ a Russian official informed. One of the video footages of Russia’s action which was released, shows the Russian patrol vessel ramming against the Ukrainian tugboat.
The Russian vessels also resorted to heavy firing on the Ukrainian ships. Also, a few Ukrainian soldiers were injured in the firing. After the action on Sunday, it was revealed that Russia had deployed fighter jets in the Kerch Strait and had also closed the access to the Strait for some time. However, the Russian officials have informed that the route was reopened on Monday.
After detaining the Ukrainian ships, Russia made serious allegations saying that it was an act of deliberate provocation. The Ukrainian diplomats would be sent summons regarding the matter, the Russian foreign ministry warned. Moreover, the Russian parliamentarians have alleged that the Ukrainian act of incitement was at the behest of its ‘Western allies’.
Nevertheless, Ukraine also made serious counter allegations against Russia. The country claimed that Russia intended to spark a conflict by ramming against Ukraine’s boat, opening fire and detaining the ships. Ukraine has placed its military on high alert fearing a military conflict triggering in the region.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called for a parliamentary session for a vote to consider the imposition of the ‘martial law’ in the country. The Russian action caused repercussions in the Ukrainian capital as well where some protestors tried to attack the Russian Embassy and set a few vehicles on fire.
Meanwhile, Russia has termed the act of the Ukrainian ships as an ‘invasion’ and has requested for an emergency UNSC meeting. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, has confirmed it and informed that the meeting had been called on Monday. Moreover, only last month, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN had alleged that the Russian naval activities in the Azov Sea had increased and that they were in violation of the international rules.