Russia Refuses to Free Captured Ukraine Ships

Ukraine may introduce martial law
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 26, 2018 5:44 AM CST
Russia Refuses to Free Captured Ukraine Ships
A protester throws a smoke grenade during a rally in front of the embassy of Russia in Kiev, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

NATO ambassadors and a Ukrainian envoy are due to hold emergency talks Monday amid an escalating crisis that has brought Ukraine and Russia close to war. The Ukrainian Navy says Russia's coast guard seized three of its vessels Sunday after a standoff near the Crimean Peninsula. Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, has asked the country's parliament to introduce martial law in response to what he calls "an act of aggression against our state and a very serious threat," the AP reports. He added: "Unfortunately, there are no 'red lines' for the Russian Federation." There are fears, however, that Poroshenko will use martial law to delay March elections that he had been expected to lose, reports the New York Times.

Ukraine says six of its seamen were wounded when Russians fired on the three vessels near the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, where Ukraine has several ports. Russia resisted Western calls Monday to free the three ships and their crews, reports Reuters. Russian authorities said they were opening a criminal case on what they called an illegal intrusion into their territorial waters. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Vladimir Putin, said the move to introduce martial law "clearly smacks of electoral intrigues." In the western Ukraine city of Lviv, meanwhile, dozens of far-right protesters burned tires outside the Russian consulate, the Guardian reports. (More Ukraine stories.)

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