Ukraine considers martial law following incident with Russian Federation

Ukrainian navy accuses Russia of seizing three ships after allegedly firing on them near Crimea

Tensions are rising between the Ukraine and Russia after Ukrainian naval officials say Russian ships fired on and seized two of their artillery ships Sunday in the Black Sea.

The Ukrainian navy said that six of its seamen were wounded when the Russian coast guard opened fire on three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait and then seized them.

Kyiv called Russia's actions a flagrant violation of global law, because the Black Sea is free for shipping, and Crimea belongs to Ukraine.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) Border Service in Crimea reported that three Ukrainian warships had illegally entered Russia's territorial waters, and were carrying out unsafe maneuvers, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

After five hours of debate on Monday, parliament voted to support the motion proposed by President Petro Poroshenko to impose martial law for 30 days.

The increasingly fraught situation around the sea has unfolded in parallel to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, where fighting in recent years between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian military has killed more than 10,000 people.

"We do not like what's happening, either way, we don't like what's happening and hopefully it will get straightened out", he said on Monday, days ahead of another meeting with Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina.

The sailors have been held in Moscow since Sunday after Russian forces captured three of Kiev's ships off the coast of Crimea, sparking the most unsafe crisis between the ex-Soviet neighbours in years.

In the videos, broadcast on state TV, the Ukrainian naval officers admit to violating the Russian border, which the Kremlin claims triggered the military response.

Russia's Federal Security Service blamed Ukraine for the incident, saying its ships made an unauthorized passage through Russian territorial waters. Ukraine's government declared martial law on Monday in response to the attack, and the incident led to public protests and worldwide condemnations of Russian Federation. A 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov as shared waters between the two countries.

The SBU on Tuesday confirmed it had officers on the ships but denied any nefarious intentions, saying they were simply fulfilling counterintelligence operations for the Ukrainian navy.

Ukraine in turn accused Russian Federation of military aggression and put its armed forces on full combat alert, saying it reserved the right to defend itself.

Putin told Merkel he was seriously concerned about Kiev's decision to put its armed forces on combat alert and impose martial law, telling Merkel he hoped Berlin would use its influence to stop Ukraine taking "further reckless steps". Russia claims the ships entered Russian waters illegally, and gave them warning to turn back.

The Ukrainian ambassador cited audio recordings of communications among Russian vessel commanders that showed they were given orders to attack the ships after they had changed course and were returning to their Ukrainian port.

Yelchenko said he has recordings of radio traffic showing how the Russian military planned and carried out the seizures.

Earlier, Russia's main intelligence agency released a video of three seized Ukrainian crew members allegedly involved in the incident on Sunday.

Ukraine's leadership responded to the clash, between the Ukrainian navy and Russia's coastguard, by imposing martial law throughout much of the country on Monday.

The news revived memories of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula previously controlled by Ukraine, and raised further concerns over Russia's territorial ambitions.

He called on the two parties to show the greatest possible restraint, and offered to work on a solution to end the crisis. It is the only outlet to the Black Sea from the Sea of Azov, location of major Ukrainian ports.

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