Ukraine says two navy vessels hit by Russian fire

Ukrainian navy accuses Russia of seizing three ships after allegedly firing on them near Crimea

Western nations have rallied behind Ukraine after Russia fired on Ukrainian ships and seized 23 sailors in the Black Sea off the coast of the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula.

Ukrainian officials insist it was Russian border guards who first rammed into and opened fire on the three Ukrainian navy vessels as they were trying to make their way from the Black Sea toward a Ukrainian port.

President Poroshenko's office described the Russian action against the Ukrainian navy ships as "an act of aggression aimed at deliberately escalating the situation in the waters of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait", and called for global condemnation of Moscow and the imposition of new sanctions.

Ukrainian Navy ships which entered Russian waters off Crimea's shores had counterintelligence officers on board, Kiev's security service admitted.

One of them was clearly reading from a teleprompter.

His call came as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Ukraine against any "reckless acts" after Kiev declared martial law in response to Moscow's seizure of three of its navy vessels.

The confrontation is a risky development in the conflict pitting Ukraine against Moscow and Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country.

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.

Several countries have condemned Russia's actions on Monday, and the UN Security Council failed to agree a Russian-proposed agenda, and instead discussed a Ukrainian proposal on the issue.

In a speech on Tuesday, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Moscow must respect worldwide law and territorial sovereignty.

Andriy Drach said he was on the Nikopol gunboat with an order to sail from Odessa to Mariupol.

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"Obviously we have not recognized the annexation of Crimea, and therefore we can not recognize the territorial waters of Crimea as the territorial waters of Russia", Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak told DW at the forum. "This should be the stance of a court", the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters during a conference call.

More than 10,000 people have been killed since the Moscow-backed insurgency broke out in April 2014 following Russia´s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. Ukraine said it had notified Russian authorities in advance of the three ships' movements - in line with the 2003 accord - and denied they had done anything wrong.

Russia has released statements by three captured Ukrainian sailors after its ships fired on and seized three Ukrainian boats off the coast of Russian-annexed Crimea.

"We don´t like what´s happening and hopefully it will get straightened out".

"I condemn Russian use of force in Azov Sea". "They're not thrilled. We're all working on it together", he said.

A Reuters witness in Kerch, a Crimean port, said the Ukrainian vessels were being held there on November 26.

A video posted to Twitter shows a Russian boat purposely ramming a Ukrainian tugboat on Sunday near the Kerch Strait.

But Ukraine's foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, said "Ukraine will seek to settle the row in a peaceful manner", even though its armed forces have been put on alert.

Russia's actions are further evidence of its continued violation of global commitments, following on from the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the illegal construction of Kerch Bridge by Russian Federation earlier this year.

"Hence, there are no Russian borders in the area where the incident happened".


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