Ukrainian Embassy in Nigeria condemns Russia’s seizure of ships

REUTERS

REUTERS

Russian Federation seized Ukrainian ships and sailors last week and has been accused by Kiev of restricting the movement of vessels through the narrow Kerch Strait, which connects the Sea of Azov to the larger Black Sea.

Russian Federation intervened as the Ukrainian ships were relocating from the Black Sea port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.

Russian Federation has "partially unblocked" Ukraine's ports on the Azov Sea, allowing ship traffic though the Kerch Strait, Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan said Tuesday in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

Russia, however, insisted that it never blocked vessels from sailing through the Kerch Strait and that any possible disruptions were due to bad weather.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers are meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin on Tuesday and Wednesday as Ukraine seeks global backing for its Black Sea standoff with Russian Federation.

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Russian Federation seized two Ukrainian navy ships and a navy tugboat along with 24 crew members off Crimea in late November, accusing the vessels of entering its waters and provoking a conflict. However, since the 2014 annexation, and the completion of the Kerch bridge earlier this year, Russian Federation has slowly restricted access for Ukrainian ships. But Poroshenko has pledged that martial law wouldn't interfere with the vote.

"All of Ukraine is now proud of your loved ones", he said during the emotional meeting in his office, hugging the captives' family members, some teary-eyed.

Concerned about an outright invasion by Russia, Ukrainian reserve units have been called up while the president, Petro Poroshenko, declared 30 days of marshal law that will bar Russian males from entering the country.

The Ukrainians, charged with illegally crossing Russia's borders, face up to six years in prison, defense lawyer Nikolai Polozov said on Tuesday.

A celebrated former Ukrainian military pilot in jail on charges of plotting an attack on parliament said Wednesday that she has started refusing food and water in protest.

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