Ukraine’s navy says Russia has fired on and seized three of its vessels off the coast of the annexed Crimea, in a major escalation of tensions.
It said two gunboats and a tug were captured by Russian special forces after a chase. According to the Ukranian Navy 3 crew members have been injured
Russia is yet to comment on the claims.
The crisis began when Russia accused the Ukrainian ships of illegally entering its waters and stopped them from sailing into the Sea of Azov.
The Russians placed a cargo ship under a bridge in the Kerch Straight. It is the only access to the Sea of Azov, which is shared between the two countries.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko later called an urgent meeting of his “war cabinet”, his spokesperson said.
“Small armoured vessels, the Beryansk and the Nicopol, have been damaged by enemy fire and can’t move,” the Navy said in a Facebook post.
“The Yany Kapu tugboat has also been forced to halt. The ships have been seized by Russian special forces,” it added.
Ships were no longer allowed to pass through the Kerch Strait – Vesselfinder.com
The Kerch strait is an important trade route for Ukraine as it gives ships access to the city of Mariupol, a key port located in the Sea of Azov.
Several dozen ships were anchored near the strait as they waited for the standoff to be solved, marine traffic tracker website VesselFinder.com showed on Sunday 25/11/2018.
A video has been released of the approach from Russian Border guards on Ukranian Navy in the Kerch Strait
Tensions have recently risen in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov off the Crimean peninsula – annexed by Russia in 2014.
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- The FSB, Russia’s security services, has issued a statement claiming that the Ukrainian ships illegally entered Russian waters, ignored warning shots and aimed their guns at Russian ships.
- Further details about the three injured sailors have been reported on Ukrainian media. The men, aged 18, 24 and 27, are in hospital in Kerch, in Russian-controlled Crimea.
- Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt has issued a further statement condemning “Russia’s aggression against the Ukrainian vessels.”
Source BBC News