The incident marks a major escalation of a standoff over the Kerch Strait, a key waterway that holds strategic importance for both countries. Tension is high between the two former Soviet Republics, and on Monday Ukrainian lawmakers will vote on whether to declare martial law, following a proposal by the country's President Petro Poroshenko. An emergency United Nations Security Council meeting has been called for Monday to discuss the issue.

The Ministry said the attack on Ukrainian ships that was carried out during a sea crossing from the port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol, in accordance with the provisions of all effective multilateral and bilateral international treaties and navigation rules, is nothing but another act of armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, as defined, in particular, in Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations and the provisions of UN General Assembly Resolution 29/3314 of 14 December 1974 on the definition of aggression. Russia has de facto expanded its military aggression against Ukraine to the sea.

"Kremlin's criminal regime has today once again demonstrated that it won't stop its aggressive policy and is ready for any acts of aggression against the Ukrainian state," a spokesman said.

"Ukraine demands to provide urgent medical assistance to the wounded and to ensure their immediate safe return home. Ukraine also demands to return the captured navy ships and to compensate for the damage caused."

"It is Kremlin's regime who bears full responsibility for further aggravation of the situation in the Azov and Black Seas and for undermining the peaceful settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict."

"Ukraine urges its allies and partners to take all necessary measures to deter the aggressor, i.a. by applying new and strengthening existing sanctions, as well as by providing Ukraine with military assistance to protect its territorial integrity and sovereignty within the internationally recognised borders."

The Ministry issued a point-by-point bulletin:

  1. We are extremely concerned with the current security situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, which worsened dramatically on November 25, 2018 due to the deliberate provocation and aggressive behavior of the Russian Federation.
    We express our strong protest to the Russian Federation in connection with the armed attack and capture of the Ukrainian navy ships «Berdyansk», «Nikopol» and the tug boat «Yana Kapu», as well as the wounding and capturing of members of their crews.
    For the first time Russian military has officially ordered to open fire at Ukrainian ships to target Ukrainians (we have all such recordings).
  2. We have all irrefutable evidence that this aggression, this attack on the Ukrainian Navy's warships was not a mistake, not an accident, but a deliberate action. Including the use of weapons against Ukrainian sailors. Ukrainian military suffered casualties: 6 wounded, 2 of them gravely, 1 in critical condition.
  3. Russian Federation's actions in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov constitute a blatant breach of UN Charter and the UN Law of the Sea Convention.
    According to Article 2 of the UN Charter all member states shall refrain from the threat of use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state - what Russia did today in the Black Sea first and then near the Kerch Strait by attacking Ukrainian vessels constitute a new example of ongoing act of aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.
    UN GA Resolution /29/3314 of 14 December 1974 regardless of a declaration of war qualifies as an act of aggression an attack by the armed forces of a State on the land, sea or air forces, or marine and air fleets of another State (Article 3(d)).
  4. Acting strictly in accordance with the multilateral and bilateral international treaties, we have informed the Russians and the de-facto authorities of the Kerch Seaport through traditional channels of communication (VHF radio) of our legitimate intention to pass through the Kerch-Yenikale canal.
    We've tried to establish the radio communication with the Kerch Seaport for more than two hours, but without any success. Later, we were informed that the Kerch-Yenikale canal was closed due to the grounding of a ship (presumably, a tanker) on the opposite side of the canal (from the Sea of Azov).
  5. Further aggravation by the Russians of the security situation in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov cannot be ruled out.
    We expect further aggressive behavior and provocations of the FSB Border Guard Service and Russian Navy.
    It is Kremlin's regime who bears full responsibility for further aggravation of the situation in the Azov and Black Seas and for undermining the peaceful settlement of the Russian-Ukrainian armed conflict.
  6. Ukraine expects more clear qualifications of this act of aggression and decisive actions against Russian aggressor, including increased political pressure on Moscow aimed at de-escalation of the security situation on the sea and unblocking the free crossing of the Kerch-Yenikale canal by the Ukrainian military ships, imposition of new sanctions.
    Ukraine would like to invite the military ships of our partners to be deployed in the Black Sea to deter further escalation by Russian Federation.
  7. The National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine approved the decision to offer the President of Ukraine the introduction of martial law for a period of 60 days. The NSDC considers it necessary to introduce a special legal regime in Ukraine in order to create conditions for repelling armed aggression and ensuring national security, eliminating threats to independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

The Parliament of Ukraine is expected to take the decision on Monday November 26.

Adoption of the martial law doesn't mean declaring war against Russia; Ukraine is ready to settle the situation in political and diplomatic way, at the same time is ready to use all the forces for self defence.

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