Russian Federation deliberately escalates conflict in Azov Sea

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The Ukrainian parliament is set to consider a presidential request for the introduction of martial law in Ukraine following an incident in which Russian coast guard ships fired on Ukrainian navy vessels.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg "expressed NATO's full support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, including its full navigational rights in its territorial waters under global law", according to a statement Monday.

On Sunday in the Kerch Strait off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Russia in 2014, the Russian navy stopped three Ukrainian military vessels from passing into the Sea of Azov.

The Russian embassy is seen covered in smoke during a protest of activists, following an incident in the Black Sea near the Crimea annexed by Russia, in which three Ukrainian naval vessels were seized by a Russian border guard vessels. This would mean Ukraine plans to treat Russia's action as a serious act, although officials didn't go as far as to declare it an act of war.

But the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry stated that Russia's actions were a violation of the UN Charter and global law.

'From November 26, 2018, to enter into force the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine on emergency measures to ensure the state sovereignty and independence of Ukraine and the introduction of martial law in Ukraine, ' reads the order. But she added that the administration expects Europe "to lead this effort" through a peace process known as the Normandy format, with France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russian Federation. Ukraine said a Russian ship had earlier rammed its tug boat in a failed to attempt to stop it.

The Ukrainian Navy said that the "occupiers" dispatch service refuses to ensure the right to freedom of navigation, guaranteed by worldwide agreements.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called an emergency cabinet meeting for 10 p.m. local time and is in contact with the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation over possible sanctions for what he called "criminal acts".

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Russian Federation then placed a cargo ship under a bridge it built over the strait.

But Washington's special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, took to Twitter Monday: "Russia rams Ukrainian vessel peacefully traveling toward a Ukrainian port. Russia seizes ships and crew and then accuses Ukraine of provocation???"

A Reuters witness in Kerch, a port in Crimea, said the three Ukrainian vessels were being held there on Monday.

The developments are seen as a Russian strategy to block Ukraine from the Azov Sea and worldwide shipping, and from transforming it into a military outpost.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke by telephone with Mr Poroshenko to express her concerns and emphasise the need for de-escalation and dialogue, her office said.

Interfax news agency quoted Russia's human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, as saying on Monday that 24 Ukrainian sailors were being detained.

Allies will not recognise Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.

Six sailors were wounded after the Ukrainian navy said two artillery boats were hit by the strikes in the Black Sea.

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