Black Sea crisis: Captured Ukrainian sailors 'confess' to violating Russian border

Ukraine Accuses Russia Of Firing At Its Ships In Black Sea

Watch Russian Warship Ram Ukrainian Tugboat in the Black Sea

Shortly after Russian border guards seized the Ukrainian ships off Crimea, France's Foreign Ministry said "nothing justifies" Russia's use of force.

Western leaders and diplomats urged both sides to de-escalate the conflict, and the USA blamed Russian Federation for what it called "unlawful conduct" over Sunday's incident in the Black Sea.

Russia's coast guard said the three Ukrainian vessels made an unauthorised crossing through its territorial waters, while Ukraine alleged one of its boats was rammed by a Russian vessel.

The Ukrainian parliament on Monday adopted a motion by the president to impose martial law for 30 days after Sunday's clash between the two rivals in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

Russia's acting United Nations ambassador, Dmitry Polyansky, accused the Ukrainian Navy of "staging an aggressive provocation", which he claimed was aimed at drumming up public support for Poroshenko ahead of Ukraine's presidential election in March.

"While planning that provocation, Ukraine had undoubtedly hoped to get additional benefits from the situation, expecting the U.S. and Europe to blindly take the provocateurs' side", he added.

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The head of Ukraine's state security service (SBU) and other officials have revealed details of attacks on Ukrainian naval vessels by Russian troops in the Kerch Strait on November 25, 2018.

The injured officer and about 22 merchants were taken into custody by Russian forces, who also seized the three Ukrainian vessels.

Russia has accused the two Ukrainian gunboats and a tug of violating Russian territorial waters as they sailed through the Kerch Strait.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in an earlier statement Russia's actions were a violation of the UN Charter and global law, and pledged to "promptly inform our partners about Russia's aggressive actions".

"We consciously ignored requests by radio to stop", Lesov told the camera.

The Kerch Strait - a shallow, narrow stretch of water just 2-3miles wide at one point - connects the Azov Sea with the Black Sea and runs between the Crimean Peninsula and Russian Federation.

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Kiev has accused Moscow of blocking access for Ukrainian ships though the strait, the only way in and out of the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea. (Supplied) One of the three captured Ukrainian sailors shown on Russian state TV in front of a seized naval ship.

The recent incident marks a significant escalation in tensions, which began rising with Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014. The FSB alleges that the Ukrainian side did not file an application for passage and its boats were not included in the timetable for navigation through the Kerch Strait.

The FSB claimed the ships had Ukrainian SBU intelligence agents abboard with a mission to mount what they called "provocation" in the Kerch Strait.

Kiev accuses Moscow of trying to impose a de facto economic blockade on its ports in the Azov Sea to weaken it as part of a "hybrid war" against Ukraine.

The waterway is close to Russian-annexed Crimea. A commander can be heard speaking Russian, swearing and ordering his crew to "slam him from the right", "squeeze him" and finally warning those on board to "hold on" before the moment of impact. The Russian state-owned media outlet RIA Novosti quoted a State Duma deputy from occupied-Crimea, Dmitry Belik, who accused Ukraine of dragging its military into "adventures" while ignoring global law.

Estonian Defence Minister Juri Luik called sanctions "probably the most potent way to signal to the Russian leadership that we are serious".

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