Ukraine demands release of sailors and ships from Russia

VOICE OF AMERICA:

Ukraine says it reserves the right to defend itself against Russia, while Moscow claims it is acting strictly within international law, as a dispute between the two countries escalates.

Russia fired on two Ukrainian naval ships and rammed a third vessel Sunday in the Black Sea, seizing the ships, claiming they illegally entered its territorial waters.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is demanding Russia immediately release the Ukrainian sailors and ships.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused Ukraine of violating international norms with “dangerous methods that created threats and risks for the normal movement of ships in the area.”

The U.N. Security Council is holding an emergency meeting to address the situation, in an effort to keep it from escalating.

European Council President Donald Tusk condemned Russia’s use of force and reiterated the European Union would stand in support of Ukraine.

“Russian authorities must return Ukrainian sailors, vessels & refrain from further provocations,” he said in a tweet Monday, adding he had spoken with Poroshenko.

Poroshenko said Monday he wants to declare martial law “to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities amid increasing aggression and according to international law a cold act of aggression by the Russian Federation.”He added that Ukraine intends “to keep adhering to all international obligations.”

Russia fired on two Ukrainian naval ships and rammed a third vessel in the Black Sea Sunday, seizing the ships and accusing them of illegally entering its territorial waters.

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