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A view of the Crimean Bridge across the Kerch Strait linking Crimea to mainland Russia. Sergei Malgavko\TASS via Getty Images
Russia confirmed early Monday morning that its ships attacked Ukrainian vessels off the coast of Crimea on Sunday, claiming the ships entered Russian waters illegally, RT reported, citing the Russian Federal Security Service.
RT said three Ukrainian sailors sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
The Ukrainian government says Russia opened fire on its navy and seized three of its vessels.
Ukraine’s mission to the UN tweeted early Monday morning that it had requested an urgent UN Security Council meeting to discuss the attack. It said at least six Ukrainian service members were injured in the incident.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko convened an emergency meeting of his war cabinet, the BBC reported. Ukrainian parliament members are expected to vote whether to declare martial law on Monday over the episode.
Russia has been steadily increasing its control around the Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014.
Tensions began over the weekend after Russia used a huge tanker to block passage through the Kerch Strait — the only access point to the Sea of Azov, which is used by both Ukraine and Russia.
The Sea of Azov has been a flash point in the conflict between the two countries. In May, Russia completed its construction of a massive 18-kilometer (11.2 mile) bridge linking the Crimea peninsula to mainland Russia.
Both Ukraine and the US have accused Russia of using the bridge to disrupt Ukrainian shipping. Ukraine also has accused Russia of moving several warships into the Sea of Azov.
The Associated Press reported the Ukrainian vessels involved in Sunday’s incident wanted to pass through the strait and had given notice to the Russians. According to RT, Russia says the Ukrainian sailors were given warning to turn back before it opened fire. It added that Russia had opened a criminal investigation into what it considered a violation of the Russian state border.
Ukraine’s foreign minister tweeted that Ukraine must be “ready” for possible “further acts of aggression.”
Given the blatant arrogance and brutality of russian aggressive actions, it is now likely possible that Russia plans further acts of aggression at sea or on the ground. We must be ready for this #RussiaAttacksUkraine
— Pavlo Klimkin (@PavloKlimkin) November 25, 2018
NATO’s spokeswoman, Oana Lungescu, wrote on Twitter early Monday morning that the alliance was closely monitoring the situation and called for restraint.
“NATO fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity, including its navigational rights in its territorial waters,” Lungescu’s statement said. “We call on Russia to ensure unhindered access to the Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law.”
Source: Business Insider
#NATO is closely monitoring developments in the #AzovSea & #KerchStrait, & we are in contact with the #Ukrainian authorities. We call for restraint & de-escalation. Read my full statement: pic.twitter.com/DDtfvNLa4K
— Oana Lungescu (@NATOpress) November 25, 2018