11/26/2018, 08.50
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Winds of war in Crimea: Moscow seizes three Ukrainian ships

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Demonstrations at the Russian embassy in Kiev; burned a diplomatic car. Emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. The Russians talking about "trespassing" of Ukrainian ships in Russian territorial waters; but the UN countries do not recognize the Russian occupation of Crimea.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Two Russian sight-seeing ships at the Black Sea's maritime borders opened fire on Ukrainian ginboats Berdljansk and Nikopol, which were hit and thrown off their route; also the tug "Jan Kap" was intercepted by Russian fire. The three boats were requisitioned by Russian forces; two Ukrainian sailors were injured.

The incident occurred last night inflaming an already tense situation. After the incident, protesters attacked the Russian embassy in Kiev and an embassy car was burned.

The Ukrainian parliament will decide today whether to launch martial law, given the tensions that the Russian gesture is causing. The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting today.

Russian ships opened fire on the Ukrainian ones in the Strait of Kerch, on the Russian side of Crimea. According to the Ukrainian naval command, the Russians opened fire as the Ukrainian ships were trying to exit the Russian naval space, in order to sink them. Previously the Russians intercepted the Ukrainian boats, urging them to stop under the threat of arms.

Yesterday morning, the Russian security services announced the crossing of the three Ukrainian ships in Russian territorial waters, while proceeding on the route from Odessa to Mariupol, in the Ukrainian part of the Sea of ​​Azov. They wanted to pass through the Kerch Strait, under the new bridge recently inaugurated by Putin, but permission was denied to them. The Russians then lined up under the bridge, protected by helicopters and assault aircraft.

Ukraine accuses Russia of "declared aggressive actions"; the Russians reproach Ukrainians for having organized a "premeditated provocation". Meanwhile, for security reasons, the Kerch bridge has been closed to civil and naval traffic.

Some witnesses say that the Ukrainian ships arrived under the bridge, stopping for about half an hour, without crossing it, and then returned to the Black Sea chased by the Russians.

Russia and Ukraine accuse each other of violating the UN convention on maritime law, which establishes sovereignty at 12 nautical miles from the shore. Since Ukraine (and most of the UN countries) does not recognize Russian sovereignty over Crimea, the issue is intricate and a harbinger of new threats.

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