Russian Federation 'fires on and seizes Ukraine ships'

Ukraine's navy has said Russia's border guards rammed one of its tugboats in the Black Sea off Moscow-annexed Crimea in an "openly aggressive action".

"Russia's provocative actions in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov have crossed the line and become aggressive", it said.

The image released by the Ukrainian Navy.

It said its vessels had every right to be where they were and that the ships had been en route from the Black Sea port of Odessa to Mariupol, a journey that requires them to go through the Kerch Strait.

Russian authorities cited a local port authority to justify the closure on grounds of heightened security concerns. "The border guard service of the Russian Federal Security Service takes all necessary measures to stop this provocation".

Ukrainian and Russian naval vessels are involved in a standoff near the Kerch Strait, a narrow sea passage near the Crimean peninsula that separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

The boats were approaching the Kerch Strait between Crimea and Russian Federation when the tug boat was struck, damaging its engine, guard rail and outer shell.

The ships "illegally entered a temporarily closed area of Russian territorial waters".

Russia blocks Kerch Strait amid confrontation with Ukraine
Ukrainian navy says one of its tugboats was rammed by a Russian ship near Crimea

Ukraine's navy said in a statement that it was a Russian border-guard ship, the Don, that "rammed into our tugboat".

The Ukrainian side said notification about the transfer plans had been done in advance in accordance with worldwide rules to ensure safe navigation.

The small-sized Berdiansk armored artillery boat was damaged.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko has convened a military cabinet for an emergency meeting, his spokesman Svyatoslav Tsegolko wrote on Twitter.

"The information was received [by Russian authorities] but no response was given", Chalylk said.

The Ukrainian navy says Russian ships fired on and seized two of its artillery ships Sunday following an incident near Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Kiev in 2014.

"Russian ships have violated our freedom of maritime navigation and unlawfully used force against Ukrainian naval ships".

"Such things are not carried out without the head of state's knowledge, consent, and - I think - initiative", Pushkov told Russia's state-run Rossia 24 TV channel.

  • Jon Douglas