NEW YORK POST:
Ukrainian officials on Friday upped the ante in the growing confrontation with Russia, announcing a travel ban for most Russian males and searching the home of an influential cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The long-simmering conflict bubbled over Sunday when Russian border guards rammed into and opened fired on three Ukrainian vessels near the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014. The vessels were trying to pass through the Kerch Strait on their way to the Sea of Azov. The Russians then captured the ships and 24 crew members.
The Ukrainian parliament on Monday adopted the president’s motion to impose martial law in the country for 30 days in the wake of the standoff.
There has been growing hostility between Ukraine and Russia since Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Russia has also supported separatists in Ukraine’s east with clandestine dispatches of troops and weapons. Fighting there has killed at least 10,000 people since 2014 but eased somewhat after a 2015 truce.
Petro Tsygykal, chief of the Ukrainian Border Guard Service, announced at a security meeting on Friday that all Russian males between 16 and 60 will be barred from traveling to the country while martial law is in place.
President Petro Poroshenko told the meeting that the measures are taken “in order to prevent the Russian Federation from forming private armies” on Ukrainian soil.
The announcement follows Thursday’s decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to scrap the much-anticipated meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump said it isn’t appropriate for him to meet with Putin since Russia hasn’t released the Ukrainian seamen.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian intelligence agency announced on Friday that they are investigating a senior cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church.