It is being reported that the United Nations Security Council has scheduled an 11:00 am EST emergency meeting to discuss the ongoing situation between Russia and Ukraine.
The two countries have maintained a tense relationship since Russia invaded Crimea, a port city in Ukraine, several years ago, and a recent incident involving the two countries has flared tensions. The occupation itself was widely contested on the international stage and after Russian ships recently fired upon and seized three Ukrainian naval vessels, the international community was similarly critical.
Britain condemned Russia on Monday after Russian vessels fired on and captured three Ukrainian naval ships near Crimea, saying the incident provided further evidence of Moscow’s destabilizing behavior.
“We condemn Russia’s act of aggression … This incident provides further evidence of Russia’s destabilizing behavior in the region,” Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman told reporters.
“The UK position is clear, ships must be allowed free passage to Ukrainian ports in the sea of Azov. We urge all parties to act with restraint. Russia must not be allowed to use force to exert greater pressure on Ukraine.”
As ABC News reports, the Ukrainian president is contemplating the use of martial law after the seizure. The Ukrainian legislative body would have to approve such an action.
From the report:
Ukraine’s president demanded Monday that Russia immediately release Ukrainian sailors and vessels seized in a standoff around Crimea that sharply escalated tensions between the two countries and drew international concern.
The two neighbors have been locked in a tense tug-of-war since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea, but the incident late Sunday, in which Russian coast guard ships fired on Ukrainian navy vessels near the Kerch Strait, directly pitted the two militaries against each other, placing them on the verge of an open conflict.
The Ukrainian navy said six of its seamen were wounded when Russian coast guards opened fire on three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait and then seized them. Russia said that three Ukrainian sailors were lightly injured and given medical assistance.
Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, chaired an emergency meeting of his Cabinet early Monday and asked parliament to introduce martial law for two months in response to what he described as Russian aggression.
Other reports indicate that the Ukrainian president did authorize the martial law and its approval in the legislature is imminent.
Here’s more on the situation from Stars & Stripes:
The Ukrainian navy said two of its gunboats were struck and Russian crews boarded and seized them and an accompanying tugboat.
Russia’s Federal Security Service, known as the FSB and which oversees the coast guard, said there was “irrefutable evidence that Kiev prepared and orchestrated provocations … in the Black Sea. These materials will soon be made public.”
The FSB confirmed early Monday that it fired on the vessels to force them to stop, and then seized them.
An emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council was called for Monday morning over the escalating situation, according to U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley. The European Union and NATO called for restraint from both sides and for Moscow to restore access to the strait, which Ukraine uses to move ships to and from ports on either side of the peninsula.