London, Nov 27 (IANS) Ukraine declared martial law late on Monday, in the wake of the capture of three of its naval vessels and crew members by Russia on Sunday, even as the US slammed Moscow for an “outrageous violation” of Ukrainian sovereignty.
After heated debates, lawmakers backed President Petro Poroshenko’s request to bring in martial law that would last 30 days starting from November 28, BBC reported.
Under martial law, authorities can restrict public rallies and regulate the media, and some MPs feared that Poroshenko could suspend a presidential election scheduled for March 31, 2019.
Sunday’s naval clash was off the coast of Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014. Russian coastguard ships opened fire, before its special forces stormed the Ukrainian vessels. Between three and six Ukrainians were injured, the report added.
Ukraine called the incident an “act of aggression” by Russia, while Moscow said the ships had illegally entered its waters.
The clash is the first time Russia and Ukraine have come into open conflict in recent years, although Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists and Russia volunteers in the east since 2014.
The US, meanwhile, slammed Russia on Monday for what it described as an “outrageous violation” of Ukraine’s sovereignty after the navy ships and 24 sailors were seized in a key waterway that holds strategic importance for both countries.
At an emergency UN Security Council meeting to defuse tensions between the two former Soviet Republics after Sunday’s confrontation, US Ambassador Nikki Haley called the incident “yet another reckless Russian escalation” and demanded that the Kremlin release the sailors, CNN reported.
“This is no way for a law-abiding, civilized nation to act,” Haley said. “Impeding Ukraine’s lawful transit through the Kerch Strait is a violation under international law. It is an arrogant act that the international community must condemn and will never accept.”