Tensions between Russia and Ukraine are once again soaring after this weekend, with reports that Russia has seized three Ukrainian navy vessels off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula. Crimea is de facto under Russian control, but Ukraine considers it part of their territory.
Earlier in the day, Ukraine accused Russian ships of ramming their tugboat in the Sea of Azov and opened fire on the gunships, injuring two. Russia claims that the Ukrainian ships were illegally in Russian waters at the time, and that the Sea was closed for security reasons.
Alternate view of Russian Coast Guard vessel (probably the Izumrud) ramming Ukrainian tug boat Yany Kapu in the Kerch Strait today. Izumrud damaged & Yany Kapu disabled. Also a Russian Mi-8 chopper gunship used for transport/reconn. #Crimea #Russia #Donetsk #Ukraine #KerchStrait pic.twitter.com/1lOWRMk1NO
— Jake Morphonios (@morphonios) November 25, 2018
Ukraine, which has been talking up war with Russia for years, is quickly escalating. The National Security and Defense Council planned a midnight session at which they intended to declare war on Russia, and urge parliament to impose martial law across Ukraine. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said this morning that he would indeed impose martial law throughout the country from November 28th onward.
What this declaration of war would mean remains to be seen, as Ukraine clearly lacks the military to fight a land war with Russia. The martial law measure will likely be a pretext to launch an attack on ethnic Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The boats involved in this incident were identified as BK-02 Berdyansk and BK-03 Nikopol, two small Gyurza-M class artillery boats, and the Yany-Kapu tugboat. Ukraine has a limited navy, particularly since the Crimean secession in 2014, as most naval assets held there were given to the Russian Federation.