Ukraine declares martial law

Fears of escalation: One of the three Ukrainian ships seized on Sunday in Kerch, Crimea.   | Photo Credit: AP

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday warned Ukraine against any “reckless acts” after Kiev declared martial law in response to Moscow’s seizure of three of its Navy vessels.

The Ukrainian Parliament late on Monday voted in favour of President Petro Poroshenko’s request for the introduction of martial law in border areas for 30 days.

Capture of ships

The move came after Russian forces fired on, boarded and captured three of Kiev’s ships on Sunday off the coast of Crimea, sparking the most dangerous crisis between the ex-Soviet neighbours in years.

The incident was the first major confrontation at sea in the long-running conflict pitting Ukraine against Moscow and Russian-backed separatists in the country’s east.

It has raised fears of a wider escalation — in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014 — and prompted international calls for restraint.

Martial law gives Ukrainian authorities the power to mobilise citizens with military experience, regulate the media and restrict public rallies in affected areas.

In a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr. Putin expressed “serious concern” over the introduction of martial law, the Kremlin said in a statement.

Moscow has accused Kiev of planning Sunday’s confrontation as a provocation aimed at drumming up support for Mr. Poroshenko ahead of elections next year and convincing Western governments to impose further sanctions on Russia.

Russian state television late on Monday aired footage of some of the captured sailors being questioned by Moscow’s security services.

Sailors in custody

One of the sailors is heard saying “the actions of the Ukrainian armed vessels in the Kerch Strait had a provocatory character” — parroting the version of events put forward by Russian authorities.

Meanwhile, a court in Russian-annexed Crimea on Tuesday ordered three Ukrainian sailors to be held in custody for two months.

“For now, the court has ordered three people held until January 25” on accusations of crossing into Russian territory illegally, sajid Crimea’s rights ombudswoman Lyudmila Lubina.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 3:22:08 AM |

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