Image by Nick Savchenko
Russian naval vessels admitted they ‘used weapons’ against Ukrainian naval vessels in the Sea of Azov earlier today to force them to stop. Several Ukrainian naval personnel were wounded and are receiving medical care. There lives are not in danger. Three Ukrainian ships were seized, reported Russian news service RIA Novosti.
The FSB was cited as saying it had acted because the Ukrainian vessels had illegally entered its territorial waters, ignored warnings to stop, and manoeuvred dangerously, reported RIA.
Ukraine, for its part, declared Russia had been advised of the transit of the body of water, now under control of Russian forces but vital for Ukraine along the coast of the Sea of Azov for access to ports such as Mariupol. Analysts believe Russia is harassing Ukrainian shipping to put pressure on the government in Kyiv in the face of upcoming presidential elections.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has asked the Ukrainian parliament to declare martial law.
The Trump administration has armed Ukrainian military forces in their fight against pro-Russian separatists in the Donbass region of East Ukraine. The Pentagon has declared it will help Ukraine increase the capability of its naval assets.