Kiev: Russia has seized three Ukrainian naval vessels off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula in a major escalation of tensions leading Kiev to announce early on Monday that it will impose martial law. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko tweeted he will propose to the Supreme Rada (Parliament) to approve the imposition of martial law following the seizure on Sunday by the Russian coastguard forces in the Black Sea, Efe news reported.
Poroshenko said as President and commander-in-chief of the armed forces and in accordance with the Constitution, he has decided to support the proposal of the Military Committee of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC).
The Ukranian leader said he hoped the Rada would quickly approve his proposal. However, he added the state of emergency would not necessarily include the mobilisation of the Army, but added “you have to be prepared”.
He also said martial law does not mean the introduction of restrictions on the rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens.
The Secretary of the NSDC, Oleksandr Turchynov, proposed that the martial law be in force for 60 days to create the conditions to repel a possible “military aggression” and any threat to the independence and territorial integrity.
He said they were talking about the danger of a provocation not only in the Black and Azov seas, but also on land, and that they see the intense preparations of the Russian military units that are close to the northern, eastern and southern borders of the Ukraine.
He recalled that this was the first time that Russia has openly attacked Ukraine, since, until now, it had done so “secretly” through hybrid warfare methods. For his part, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Pavlo Klimkin, described the seizure of the Ukrainian ships, during which six soldiers were wounded, as an “act of aggression”.
He added now they have an aggression on Ukrainian territory and also a war with Russia in neutral waters. The Federal Security Service (FSB, former KGB) of Russia confirmed around midnight after Sunday that the seizure on Sunday afternoon of two small Ukrainian Navy vessels and a tugboat in Russian territorial waters took place after they supposedly performed “dangerous maneuvers”, something that Kiev denies.