Estonia condemns Russian attack on Ukrainian vessels in Kerch Strait

Ukraine demonstrations

In a televised address, Poroshenko said he had reduced his original call for two months of martial law to 30 days from November 28.

Ukraine said it was a Russian "act of aggression".

"Russian authorities must return Ukrainian sailors, vessels & refrain from further provocations", he said in a tweet Monday, adding he had spoken with Poroshenko.

Speaking at an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley called Russia's reported actions an "outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory", saying they marked "yet another reckless Russian escalation".

Kiev called Russia's actions a flagrant violation of worldwide law, because the Black Sea is free for shipping, and Crimea belongs to Ukraine.

The crisis unfolded on Sunday as two Ukrainian small warships and a tugboat were heading through the Kerch Strait, a narrow waterway that gives access to the Sea of Azov that is used by Ukraine and Russian Federation.

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The Russian coastguard was filmed ramming one of Ukraine's navy tugboats before opening fire on it and two artillery boats. Russian media say three were injured.

The Ukrainian Navy said that the "occupiers" dispatch service refuses to ensure the right to freedom of navigation, guaranteed by worldwide agreements. It is introduced only to strengthen the defenses of Ukraine in view of the growing aggression from Russian Federation.

Russia and Ukraine have also been locked in conflict since the annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea by Russia in 2014, and a war with Russian-backed separatists in the country's east has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

A bilateral treaty gives both countries the right to use the sea, which lies between them and is linked by the narrow Kerch Strait to the Black Sea.

In the latest incident, both sides have traded accusations of the other's being in breach of global norms, with Moscow saying Kyiv failed to obtain authorization for the passage of its vessels, and Kyiv claiming Moscow had ignored a notification sent by the ships.

Aslund, who frequently raises eyebrows among more knowledgeable Russian Federation experts and is known for his dramatic hot takes on Twitter, also compared the incident to Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland - so the complexities of reality are unlikely to deter him.

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Earlier on Sunday, Russia and Ukraine traded accusations over another incident involving the same three vessels, prompting Moscow to block passage through the Kerch Strait. The seized ships were brought to Kerch, where the wounded men received medical attention.

"Russia always takes us by surprise", he said.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued a statement condemning "this aggressive Russian action" and calling on "both parties to exercise restraint and abide by their worldwide obligations and commitments".

Ukrainian vessels have to run a gauntlet of Russian security forces to get from the Black Sea through the bottleneck of the Kerch Strait and into the Azov Sea to reach Ukrainian ports.

It is likely an attempt to put a stranglehold around the important steel exporting city of Mariupol, which despite the war in eastern Ukraine and its proximity to Crimea, has continued to thrive and contribute to the country's economy, Arel said. According to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, the Ukrainian military started shelling residential areas of the self-proclaimed DNR, as Ukrainian vessels challenged Russia at the Kerch Strait.

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