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Ukrainian and Russian media report numerous details about the collision of ships in the Kerch Strait and its consequences

On November 25, two Ukrainian boats and a tug tried to pass through the Kerch Strait into the Sea of Azov without prior approval from Russia. After the accession of Crimea, Russia considers the strait to be its internal waters, and Ukraine insists that the strait has an international character. The attempt was unsuccessful, so the Ukrainian ships turned around and set sail for neutral waters. The ships of the Russian border service began to pursue them for the purpose of detention.

At 20:55 Moscow time on November 25, the Russian ship “Izumrud” opened fire on the hull of the Ukrainian boat “Berdyansk”. Within three minutes after the attack, the commander of Berdyansk, who had not been in touch for several hours before, appeared on the air and asked for help: three of the seven crew members on the ship board received injuries of varying severity. Within 8 minutes, the Crimean border guards evacuated the wounded and provided them with first aid. After that, the “Nikopol” boat and “Yani Kapu” tugboat also surrendered.

Russian frontier guards did not aim at the crew, so the Ukrainian sailors suffered from the fragments of the metal plating of the boat. Two sailors received serious injuries: one tore off the fingers on the arm, another injured his leg and lost a lot of blood. However, all injured, border guards promptly took all injured sailors to the Kerch city hospital, where they were operated on. Currently, nothing threatens the lives of Ukrainian sailors; they are in the trauma ward under the protection of special forces soldiers of the FSB Border Guard Service.

A total of 24 people were captured in Russia. The head of the Ukrainian SBU, Vasily Gritsak, on Tuesday morning, November 27, confirmed the information of the Russian special services about the presence of the SBU’s military counterintelligence officers on board the detained ships.

The incident caused a violent reaction in Ukraine. The Parliament of Ukraine on November 26 supported the decree of the president Petro Poroshenko on the introduction of martial law in the country. The martial law is introduced for a month – till December 26. Martial law is not imposed on the entire territory of the country, but only in those regions that border the Russian Federation, the unrecognized Transnistria, or are located on the coast of the Azov Sea. Thus, Odessa, Nikolayev, Kherson, Donetsk, Lugansk, Vinnytsia, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov and Zaporozhe regions are declared in martial law.

Initially, the President of Ukraine wanted to impose martial law throughout Ukraine for a period of 60 days and postpone the presidential election to be held in the spring of 2019. But as various Ukrainian sources say, on November 26, Poroshenko held telephone conversations with Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General. Both interlocutors demanded that Poroshenko abandon the scenario of canceling the elections, which forced him to switch to the option with a monthly martial law in limited territories.

Martial law takes effect November 28. However, on Monday, November 26, Ukraine tightened control over Russian citizens entering Ukraine. During the day, more than 70 Russian citizens who flew from Belarus or directly from Russia were not missed at the capital’s airports in Ukraine.

Radical Ukrainian nationalists responded to the incident in their pogromistic manner. On the night of November 25-26, they attacked the Russian embassy in Kiev and burned a car with diplomatic plates. On November 26, they carried out a similar attack on the building of the Russian consulate in the city of Kharkov and violated the normal working procedure of the Russian foreign agency.

On the night of November 27 in the Odessa region, the nationalists began to attack Russian transit trucks and remove their license plates. They reported these illegal actions themselves on their Facebook page.

On November 27, in Kiev, 50 nationalists from the Sokol grouping blocked the work of the Ocean Plaza shopping center and demanded the work of Russian business in Ukraine to be banned. The organization believes that the shopping center should be closed, as it belongs to the Russian businessman Arkadiy Rotenberg. The nationalists blocked all exits from the shopping center with car tires and painted the front glass with anti-Russian slogans.

The incident in the Kerch Strait in its own way worried the US Air Force. On November 26, the US Air Force’s electronic surveillance aircraft Boeing RC-135V with the call sign BASTE41 took off from the Suda Bey airbase on the island of Crete (Greece) and headed for the Black Sea. On the same day, Russian media reported that two NATO aircraft were flying over the Black Sea in the Crimea region.

On November 27, the Russian special services charged the detained Ukrainian sailors. They are accused of illegally crossing the border of Russia under part 3 of article 322 of the Criminal Code. “After that, the ships “Nikopol”, “Berdyansk” and “Yany Kapu” with the persons on them were forcibly stopped by officers of the FSB of Russia in the Republic of Crimea,” the investigation says. The ruling list includes 24 people.

On the same day, in the capital of Crimea, Simferopol, the judges decided to arrest 12 Ukrainian sailors until January 25, 2019. All those arrested will be in the Simferopol remand prison. The court will consider cases of the other seamen on Wednesday, November 28. A preventive measure for the wounded will be decided in Kerch. They face the maximum punishment – 6 years of imprisonment.

Ukrainian ships had previously passed through the Kerch Strait, but Ukraine coordinated its actions with Russia. This time, the command of the Ukrainian fleet did otherwise. On November 27, the FSB issued orders found on the “Nikopol” boat, from which it follows that the Ukrainian command acted deliberately. The ships were initially tasked with secretly moving from Odessa to Berdyansk through the Kerch Strait. Many observers believe that the actions of the Ukrainian side were planned to draw world attention to the problems of the Sea of ​​Azov, which will be discussed in the UN in December 2018.

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