In a move that has triggered fears of a war, Ukraine has said that Russia fired at and seized three of its Navy ships in the Black Sea on Sunday, November 25. Six crew members were reportedly injured in the dispute.
The Ukrainian Navy, in a Facebook post, said that Russia's FSB border service ships had fired at two small armoured artillery boats and a tug that was with the boats. The two artillery boats were immobilised in the attack, after which Russian special forces boarded the vessels and seized them.
In its defence, Russia's FSB confirmed that the Ukrainian ships were seized and that the force also used weapons in the process, but said they had no choice as the vessels had illegally entered its territorial waters. It went on to say that the sailors' injuries were not life-threatening and that they were being treated.
"Weapons were used with the aim of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships," the FSB said in a statement. "As a result, all three Ukrainian naval vessels were seized in the Russian Federation's territorial waters in the Black Sea."
After the incident, Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called for an emergency meeting of his military cabinet, during which he said that he would now propose a martial law. But he clarified that this would not translate into a full-scale mobilisation of the country's armed forces.
The incident then led to a naval standoff between the two countries and Russia even placed a large cargo ship under the Crimean Bridge blocking traffic, reported the Associated Press.
Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads over access through the Kerch Strait, which is the only way to enter the Sea of Azov, for the last few months. The bridge is used by Russia, as well as, Ukraine, but both the sides of the strait are now controlled by Moscow after it annexed Crimea in 2014. Since then, Moscow is said to have been flexing its muscles on the issue, even harassing and blocking ships entering from Ukraine.
Experts are now worried that the incident could lead to violence. The European Union and NATO, on Sunday, November 25, urged Russia to immediately stop blocking access to the Kerch Strait and the UN Security Council is also set to hold an "emergency meeting" on Monday, November 26.