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Ukraine naval vessels attacked by Russia, State of War declaration possible


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Russia has seized three Ukrainian naval vessels off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula in a major escalation of tensions between the two countries.

Two gunboats and a tug were captured by Russian forces. Ukraine says they were fired on and six crew were injured.

The countries blame each other for the incident. Ukraine's government said it would declare martial law.

The crisis began when Russia accused the Ukrainian ships of illegally entering its waters.

The Russians placed a tanker under a bridge in the Kerch Strait - the only access to the Sea of Azov, which is shared between the two countries.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called an urgent meeting of his "war cabinet" over the incident, his spokesperson said.

Tensions have recently risen in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov off the Crimean peninsula - annexed by Russia in 2014.

How did the crisis unfold?

In the morning, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats, and the Yana Kapa tug, tried to sail from the Black Sea port of Odessa to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine says the Russians tried to intercept the ships, ramming the tug. The vessels continued towards the Kerch Strait, but were prevented by the tanker.

 
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Russian jets fly over the bridge, and a tanker is seen under the huge arch of the bridge. Photo: 25 November 2018Image copyrightREUTERS Image captionA tanker under the bridge shut all navigation from and into the Sea of Azov

Russia scrambled two fighter jets and two helicopters to the area. It accused the ships of illegally entering its waters and said the traffic had been suspended for security reasons.

The Ukrainian navy later said the boats had been hit and disabled as they tried to leave the area. It said the tug had been forced to stop.

Russia's FSB later confirmed that one of its patrol boats had used force to seize the three Ukrainian vessels.

Ukraine said it had informed the Russians of its plan to move its ships through the sea to Mariupol.

What's the background to this?

The shallow Sea of Azov lies east of Crimea, and south of the Ukrainian regions partially seized by pro-Russian separatists.

The two Ukrainian ports on its northern shore - Berdyansk and Mariupol - are key for exporting grain and produce such as steel, also for importing coal.

In 2003, Ukraine and Russia signed a treaty that defined the Sea of Azov as internal waters of the two countries. The treaty guaranteed free navigation to all Ukrainian and Russian vessels.

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Media captionJonah Fisher talks to a commander of the Ukrainian Navy about the tensions in the Azov Sea

But Russia has recently begun inspecting all vessels going to or from Ukrainian ports. Earlier this month, the EU warned it would take "targeted measures" to address the issue.

"The situation in the Sea of Azov is damaging not only the Ukrainian economy, but also so many vessels that are flying the European Union member states' flags," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said.

The Russian inspections began soon after Ukraine detained a fishing vessel from Russian-annexed Crimea in March.

Moscow also says the inspections of the vessels are necessary for security reasons, pointing to a potential threat to the bridge from Ukrainian radicals.

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More than 10,000 people have been killed in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions since separatists moved against the Ukrainian state in April 2014.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of sending its troops to the region and arming the separatists.

Moscow denies this but says that Russian volunteers are helping the rebels.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46338671

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Nothing on CNN front page about it, at this point. Here is a WaPo article.

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Russia and Ukraine accused each other of provoking an incident at sea on Sunday, rapidly escalating tensions between the neighbors and spurring Moscow to close a vital water route the two nations use. 

On Sunday morning, Russia prevented three Ukrainian ships from entering the Kerch Strait, a narrow strip of water linking the Azov and Black seas. According to the Ukrainian navy, vessels belonging to Russia’s border service opened fire on the Ukrainian fleet, injuring six sailors, before seizing two of the ships. 

Moscow had prevented the ships from entering the Kerch Strait by placing a large cargo vessel beneath a Russian-controlled bridge. Russia then closed the strait. 

Russia says the Ukrainian navy illegally entered its waters. The two artillery boats and a tugboat “unlawfully entered a temporarily closed area of Russia’s territorial sea at about 7 am Moscow time,” Russia’s border service told the Interfax news agency. “It is clear that their goal is to create a conflict situation in the region.”

Ukraine disputes this. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Russia acted “aggressively” and “illegally used force against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy.” A Russian ship rammed into the tugboat, damaging it, the Ukrainian navy added. 

A bilateral treaty grants both countries the right to use the Azov Sea. 

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A ship under a bridge controlled by Russia blocks passage through the Kerch Strait, a narrow strip of water linking the Azov and Black seas, on Nov. 25, 2018. (AP Photo)

The standoff raises the specter of further confrontation between Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council. The European Union called on Russia to reopen the Kerch Strait and urged “all to act with utmost restraint to de-escalate the situation immediately.”

A lot is at stake. The two countries have been at loggerheads since a pro-Moscow government in Ukraine was toppled more than four years ago, touching off Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and the ongoing war in eastern Ukraine involving pro-Russian separatists. 

Fighting between the rebels and Ukrainian troops has claimed more than 10,300 lives since 2014, and continued skirmishes result in near-daily casualties. 

Ukraine has pledged to respond to the Sunday incident. “We will react in a dynamic manner,” said Ukrainian navy spokesman Oleh Chalyk. “In contrast to the Russian Federation, we act according to international law.” 

According to the Ukrainian navy, Russia sent two combat helicopters to the location of the incident. Local media reported that dozens of ships, both cargo and those with tourists, are stuck on the Black Sea. 

The Ukrainian ships were on a journey through the Black Sea, having left the Ukrainian port city of Odessa and heading to Mariupol on the Azov Sea coast, the government-controlled Ukrainian city that is closest to the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. 

Since President Vladi­mir Putin earlier this year opened the new bridge across the Kerch Strait — connecting the Russian mainland to Crimea — Moscow has increased its control of the area. 

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been steadily mounting in recent months, and even entering new battlefields. 

Last month, the conflict spilled over into the area of faith when the Ukrainian Orthodox Church officially broke free from Moscow’s control, a move that continues to anger the Kremlin. 

Amid the Black Sea standoff, popular Russian TV host Dmitry Kiselyov told state television that Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was picking a fight with Russia at the prompting of the United States. 

“What is happening now at the [Kerch] bridge threatens to become a very unpleasant story,” said Kiselyov, one of the Kremlin’s main propagandists. 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/russia-closes-water-route-in-fresh-confrontation-with-ukraine/2018/11/25/a57adc3e-f0c1-11e8-99c2-cfca6fcf610c_story.html?utm_term=.f3e09d609e47

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I’m seeing people post photos and videos showing nothing happening, with titles in furriner languages, and this is apparently what they are referencing. 

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Russian state propoganda is spreading false reports that there is a massive shelling of civilian areas in the occupied Donetsk region , locals are publishing videos and posting eyewitness accounts that this is false and the area is completely silent.

 

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1 hour ago, and said:

How and why does a fucking country with a GDP of NewYork wield so much power. Someone(China) needs to swat'em down like the fly they are. 

This is why I could never understand Trump's fascination with them.  (Well, I think I understand it but that's another thread.)  Their GDP is roughly that of Spain (depending on the price of oil) and they rank a stunning #110 in life expectancy between North Korea and Kazakstan.  They're basically a borderline second world country with nukes.

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4 minutes ago, Aqua Buddha said:

This is why I could never understand Trump's fascination with them.  (Well, I think I understand it but that's another thread.)  Their GDP is roughly that of Spain (depending on the price of oil) and they rank a stunning #110 in life expectancy between North Korea and Kazakstan.  They're basically a borderline second world country with nukes.

You could have just typed the bolded part.

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29 minutes ago, Aqua Buddha said:

This is why I could never understand Trump's fascination with them.  (Well, I think I understand it but that's another thread.)  Their GDP is roughly that of Spain (depending on the price of oil) and they rank a stunning #110 in life expectancy between North Korea and Kazakstan.  They're basically a borderline second world country with nukes.

I've seen Putin's net worth estimated at $200 Billion. Leaders of the free world can't make that kind of bank. 

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3 minutes ago, WhatTheBuck said:

I've seen Putin's net worth estimated at $200 Billion. Leaders of the free world can't make that kind of bank. 

It is that much until the next Premier shows up in Russia and throws him behind bars. 

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Russia has requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, which US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says has been called for 11:00 New York time (16:00 GMT) on Monday.

Are we taking bets on which countries will support the Russkies?  Because I don’t think they called that meeting without knowing who would support them.   

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7 hours ago, Parliament said:

Five posts and no quotes from The Hunt for Red October?

"This will get out of hand. This will get out of hand and we'll be lucky to live through it."

What about Kramer v Newman in Risk...? 

"You know what the Ukraine is? It's a sitting duck. A road apple, Newman. The Ukraine is weak. It's feeble. I think it's time to put the hurt on the Ukraine."

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15 hours ago, Aqua Buddha said:

This is why I could never understand Trump's fascination with them.  (Well, I think I understand it but that's another thread.)  Their GDP is roughly that of Spain (depending on the price of oil) and they rank a stunning #110 in life expectancy between North Korea and Kazakstan.  They're basically a borderline second world country with nukes.

Russia is the heart of the second world, not borderline.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_World

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Russia's gonna march into Ukraine, do whatever the fuck they want, claim that 1) Ukraine started it, and they are only protecting their sovereignty, and 2) we aren't even there, those are guys on vacation, and war is their hobby, and 3) Trump will do nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Because as dumb as he is, he has always clearly understood one thing: once you are bought, you goddamn better STAY bought.

Message sent and received: Europe, you are on your own.  The US is more of a hindrance than a help, you shouldn't waste any more time dealing with them.

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1 hour ago, Brisketexan said:

Russia's gonna march into Ukraine, do whatever the fuck they want, claim that 1) Ukraine started it, and they are only protecting their sovereignty, and 2) we aren't even there, those are guys on vacation, and war is their hobby, and 3) Trump will do nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Because as dumb as he is, he has always clearly understood one thing: once you are bought, you goddamn better STAY bought.

Message sent and received: Europe, you are on your own.  The US is more of a hindrance than a help, you shouldn't waste any more time dealing with them.

pretty much this. 

you know this makes me think of the chat with my family in Cyprus this last summer. they were scared shitless - Turkey, Russia, all this shit going on. They are a permanent chess piece.  A pawn of course. Always. and they don't have anything of value there at all. But in my old age I realize so much more clearly that image and politics make man act, sometimes far more than actual value and resources. 

The Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltics - permanent fucking chest pieces. I don't know how they get out of it. Limited resources and always getting clawed at by the Bear. 

its a stress we Americans don't get. Talking to my uncle and aunt over lunch one day and hearing them speak about this was eye-opening.  I mean a fear you can't relate to. Its like a mixture of resignation and death, with a smidgen of inevitability. Its unemotional and just with them. 

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20 minutes ago, bolverk said:

I'm just hoping there's not a Gavrilo Princip out there. 

It's not a Princip to worry about.  It's that Princip and his group was sponsored by Apis--the head of Serbian intelligence.  And that Serbian intelligence operated with Russian support and backing.

As in 1914--we need to worry about Russia's covert actions.

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49 minutes ago, staboner said:

pretty much this. 

you know this makes me think of the chat with my family in Cyprus this last summer. they were scared shitless - Turkey, Russia, all this shit going on. They are a permanent chess piece.  A pawn of course. Always. and they don't have anything of value there at all. But in my old age I realize so much more clearly that image and politics make man act, sometimes far more than actual value and resources. 

The Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltics - permanent fucking chest pieces. I don't know how they get out of it. Limited resources and always getting clawed at by the Bear. 

its a stress we Americans don't get. Talking to my uncle and aunt over lunch one day and hearing them speak about this was eye-opening.  I mean a fear you can't relate to. Its like a mixture of resignation and death, with a smidgen of inevitability. Its unemotional and just with them. 

Pics of chest pieces?

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