MOSCOW — The Latest on tensions between Russia and Ukraine (all times local):
Three former Ukrainian presidents have joined forces to oppose the motion to impose martial law in the country in the wake of Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships and their crews.
Ukraine’s first president from 1991-1994, Leonid Kravchuk, read out a letter signed by him and two other former leaders, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko, objecting to the imposition of martial law.
Earlier, current President Petro Poroshenko signed a bill to impose martial law. The Ukrainian parliament is due to vote on the issue later in the day. The debate has yet to begin as some lawmakers from the opposition are seeking amendments.
In their letter, the former presidents said martial law would pose a “threat to democracy” because it will scrap the presidential vote scheduled for next year.
Britain is accusing Russia of an “act of aggression” in seizing Ukrainian vessels and sailors near Russian-occupied Crimea.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, says the incident is “further evidence of Russia’s destabilizing behavior in the region and its ongoing violation of Ukrainian territorial integrity.”
He says “Russia must not be allowed to use force to exert greater pressure on Ukraine.” Britain is urging all parties to show restraint.
The Ukrainian navy says six sailors were wounded when Russian coast guards opened fire on three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait — the only outlet for Ukrainian vessels to the Black Sea — and then seized them. Ukraine is demanding the release of the ships and crewmen.
Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a tense tug-of-war since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Spain and Germany are joining European Union calls on Russia to release Ukrainian sailors and ships seized in a Sunday standoff around Crimea that sharply escalated tensions between the two countries.
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell says that his country supports the EU’s official position and that both sides should reduce tension.
“We have to stop the escalation and extension of the conflict to levels of intensity that would be dangerous,” Borrell said on Monday in Madrid, where he welcomed his German counterpart, Heiko Maas, for bilateral talks.
Maas welcomed Russia’s move to dissolve the blockade in the Kerch Strait, but called the developments in the Sea of Azov “worrying.”
“We must end this war that is going on in our neighborhood,” Maas told reporters.
The French government said Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships and their crew is not justified and urged their release immediately.
In a statement, the French Foreign Ministry urged restraint on both sides and expressed “extreme concern” about the standoff around Crimea.
In the statement, France appears to give little credence to Russia’s claims that the Ukrainian ships had violated maritime rules.
Russia and Ukraine have traded blame over the incident, in which Russian coast guard ships fired on Ukrainian navy vessels near the Kerch Strait and Ukrainian seamen were injured.
The French government said the standoff stemmed directly from Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, which France doesn’t recognize and considers a violation of international law.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a bill to impose martial law in the country in the wake of Russia’s seizure of three ships and their crews.
The bill has to be approved by parliament for it to go into force. The Supreme Rada is due to vote on the issue later Monday.
Poroshenko proposed imposing martial law in the country after Russian border guards opened fire on three Ukrainian military vessels in the Sea of Azov.
The bill that was published by Poroshenko’s office Monday afternoon calls for martial law to be imposed for two months.
The emergency measures will, if adopted by lawmakers, include a partial mobilization, a strengthening of the country’s air defense as well as a plethora of vaguely worded steps such as the “strengthening” of anti-terrorism measures and “information security.”
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin says the Ukrainian seamen captured by Russia in Sunday’s incident off Russian-annexed peninsula of Crimea should be treated as prisoners of war.
Klimkin told reporters in Kiev that the government is in talks with the Red Cross to make sure the seamen are treated as prisoners of war.
Six Ukrainians were injured after Russian border guards opened fire on three Ukrainian military vessels in the Kerch Strait on Sunday. The vessels and the crews were captured by the Russians.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not say whether the Kremlin considers them prisoners of war.
An aide to Polish President Andrzej Duda says sanctions on Russia should be stepped up following its seizure of Ukrainian navy ships.
Krzysztof Szczerski said Russia’s recent actions against Ukraine’s vessels were an “open violation” of international law and was “another attempt to destabilize the region.”
Szczerski said Poland sees the need to “take into consideration and discuss among allies the stepping up of sanctions on Russia.”
He said Duda has spoken over the phone with Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko about the naval standoff in the Black Sea.
The Russian coast guard fired on three Ukrainian ships Sunday near the Kerch Strait and then seized them along with the crews.
International sanctions were imposed on Moscow after it annexed the Crimea Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
Ukraine’s neighbor and ally Poland also borders Russia.
Ukrainian protesters have burned a Russian flag and hurled flares at the Russian consulate in the eastern city of Kharkiv over the seizure of Ukrainian navy ships.
The Unian news agency reported that the protesters demanded Ukraine cut off diplomatic relations with Russia and nationalize Russian business on Ukrainian soil. They also said Ukraine should stop respecting a 2003 agreement with Russia on sharing the Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and Azov Sea that is at the core of the standoff.
In the capital Kiev, protesters from far right party National Corps waved flares outside the Ukrainian parliament. They brandished yellow-and-blue flags with the Ukrainian national symbol, the trident, and a huge white banner reading “Don’t Back Down!”
As Ukraine mulls imposing martial law, National Corps protester Rodion Kudryashov said the measure shouldn’t last more than 30 days because it shouldn’t disrupt elections planned for March. He also said it should be accompanied by a “termination of relations” with Russia.
Moldova’s foreign ministry says regional security is being threatened by “acts of aggression and provocations” in the Crimea naval standoff between Ukraine and Russia.
A statement said Moldova reiterated its support “for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and its right to use international waters,” adding it was “deeply concerned” about tensions around the Kerch Strait and the Azov Sea. Ex-Soviet republic Moldova shares a 1,222-kilometer (764-mile) border with Ukraine.
The Ukrainian navy said six of its seamen were wounded when Russian coast guards opened fire Sunday on three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait and then seized them. Russia said that three Ukrainian sailors received light injuries and were given medical assistance.
European Union chief Donald Tusk is calling on Russia to stop provoking Ukraine and is urging the authorities to return any Ukrainian ships or sailors it is holding amid a naval standoff in Crimea.
The European Council President said in a tweet Monday: “I condemn Russian use of force in Azov Sea.” He added that “Russian authorities must return Ukrainian sailors, vessels and refrain from further provocations.”
He said he has discussed developments with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and will meet the Ukrainian leader’s representatives later on Monday.
Tusk added: “Europe will stay united in support of Ukraine.”
The Russian coast guard fired on three Ukrainian ships Sunday near the Kerch Strait, then seized them along with the crews.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman is calling on Russia to release Ukrainian sailors and ships seized in a naval standoff near Crimea.
Steffen Seibert on Monday urged both sides on Monday to open a dialogue quickly to clear up the case and calm tensions. He said that Sunday’s incident raises “serious questions, above all regarding the use of military force by Russian forces for which, on the basis of the facts known to us so far, no justification is apparent.”
The Russian coast guard fired on three Ukrainian ships Sunday near the Kerch Strait and then seized them along with the crews, increasing tensions and drawing international concern.
Seibert said Germany is “in contact with both sides.” Foreign ministry spokesman Rainer Breul said a previously scheduled meeting in Berlin Monday of foreign ministries’ political directors from Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine will now serve to discuss the standoff.
NATO says its ambassadors and Ukraine’s envoy will hold emergency talks in Brussels later Monday over the naval standoff between Ukraine and Russia near Crimea.
The military alliance said the meeting was called at the request of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko after he held talks with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
NATO says Stoltenberg expressed the U.S.-led military alliance’s “full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, including its full navigational rights in its territorial waters under international law.”
The Russian coast guard fired on three Ukrainian ships Sunday near the Kerch Strait and then seized them along with the crews.
Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas has called on an extraordinary meeting of the government’s security committee to discuss the Russian action against Ukraine in the Black Sea and nearby areas.
Ratas says that “what took place in the Kerch Strait is a serious violation of international law,” adding the meeting would be held later Monday.
After Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, Estonia — like its Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania — fear that they and other former Soviet republics could be next.
Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser on Monday called the events off Crimea “a conscious act to escalate tension,” while Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite tweeted it was “another blatant violation of international law and Russia’s own commitments.”
Russia’s foreign minister says Ukraine has violated international law and provoked Russia by sending its navy vessels through the Kerch Strait without permission.
The Russian coast guard fired on three Ukrainian ships Sunday and then seized them along with the crews. The Ukrainian navy said six of its sailors were wounded, while Russia said that three Ukrainian seamen received light injuries.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov charged Monday that Ukraine violated international legal norms by failing to obtain authorization for its vessels. Ukraine accused Russia of aggression, saying it had ignored a notification sent by the ships.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told Russian news agencies on Monday the incident was a “dangerous provocation” by Ukraine “which deserves special attention and careful investigation.”
A 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, but Russia has sought to assert greater control over the passage since the 2014 annexation of Crimea.
Dozens of far-right protesters are burning tires outside the Russian consulate in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv to protest the seizure of Ukrainian ships off Crimea.
The protest Monday was organized by the National Corps party, which also called for a demonstration in front of President Petro Poroshenko’s office in the capital, Kiev. The group argues Poroshenko isn’t aggressive enough against Russia. The group is small but can put pressure on the president.
In addition to the Lviv protests, far-right group C14 published photos on Facebook of a car with Russian diplomatic plates on fire in front of the Russian Embassy in Kiev.
The European Union and NATO called for restraint from both sides after the Russian coast guard fired on Ukrainian navy vessels near the Kerch Strait and then seized them. The Ukrainian navy said six of its seamen were wounded.
Russia and Ukraine traded blame over the incident.
Ukraine’s president is demanding that Russia immediately release Ukrainian sailors and ships seized in a standoff in the Black Sea.
Petro Poroshenko said at a meeting of Ukraine’s national security council Monday that “we demand that they are urgently turned over to the Ukrainian side” and called for a “de-escalation” of the crisis around Crimea.
Later Monday, the Ukrainian parliament is set to consider a presidential request for the introduction of martial law.
Ukraine’s navy said six Ukrainian seamen were wounded when Russian coast guards opened fire on three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait and then seized them late Sunday. The two nations traded blame over the incident. It aggravated tensions that have soared since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backed a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
NATO is calling on Russia and Ukraine to show restraint after the Russian coastguard fired on Ukrainian navy vessels, wounding six seamen.
Ukraine says the ships were respecting international maritime rules as they headed to the Sea of Azov. Russia says they failed to obtain permission to pass through the Kerch Strait separating Crimea from the Russian mainland. Tensions between NATO and Russia have escalated since 2014 after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said “we call for restraint and de-escalation.”
She said NATO supports Ukraine’s “navigational rights in its territorial waters” and calls on Russia “to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law.”
NATO headquarters declined to say Monday whether its ambassadors would meet to discuss the incident, but the alliance is in contact with Ukrainian authorities.
A senior German official is calling on Russia and Ukraine to de-escalate tensions after Russian coast guard ships fired on Ukrainian navy vessels.
Michael Roth, a deputy foreign minister, told Deutschlandfunk radio Monday that the matter is “very dangerous — the last thing we need is a further escalation in relations between Russia and Ukraine.”
Roth said he didn’t have any information of his own on the incident “but it is clear that Russia, in accordance with international law, must ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian harbors in the Sea of Azov.” He added that “both sides must now de-escalate” and avoid a spiral of tensions that “could ultimately lead to terrible consequences.”
Moscow and Kiev are trading blame over the incident that further escalated tensions that have soared since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014.
The Ukrainian parliament is set to consider a presidential request for the introduction of martial law in Ukraine following an incident in which Russian coast guard ships fired on Ukrainian navy vessels.
Ukraine’s navy said six Ukrainian seamen were wounded when Russian coast guards opened fire on three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait and then seized them late Sunday.
The two nations traded blame over the incident that further escalated tensions that have soared since Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backed a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine said its vessels were heading to the Sea of Azov in line with international maritime rules, while Russia charged that they had failed to obtain permission to pass through the narrow Kerch Strait separating Crimea from the Russian mainland.