Russia seizes three Ukrainian naval ships off Crimea

(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –Russia has seized three Ukrainian naval ships in a strait near Moscow-annexed Crimea, raising fears of military escalation and prompting an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday.

In the unprecedented incident, Russia said it used weapons “in order to stop the Ukrainian military,” which it claims illegally entered its waters, confirming “three Ukrainian navy ships were boarded and searched.”

Ukraine’s navy said the incident took place on Sunday as two small warships and a tugboat were heading through the Kerch Strait, a narrow waterway that gives access to the Sea of Azov that is used by Ukraine and Russia.

It said a Russian border guard vessel rammed the tugboat in “openly aggressive actions” and then fired on the ships, immobilising all three.

The confrontation at sea is a dangerous development in the long-running conflict pitting Ukraine against Russia and Russian-backed rebels in the east of the country.

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the escalation, US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said. The meeting was requested by both Russia and Ukraine, diplomatic sources said.

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