MOSCOW, the Russian Federation, (BulgarianMilitary.com) – Today, Russian state media reported that the court in the city of Simferopol in Crimea, which was deciding today on a pre-trial measure for the 24 Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia in Kerch Strait on Sunday, has ordered one of them to be under arrest for two months on charges of illegally crossing Russian borders, the sentence for which is up to six years in prison, learned BulgarianMilitary.com.
The initiation of a criminal case is likely to deepen the crisis between Moscow and Kiev, which already has provoked international criticism as well as discussions on imposing new sanctions against Russia.
Today, the Head of Ukraine’s State Security Service (SBU) Vasily Gritsak confirmed information that two intelligence officers were among the crew onboard the Ukrainian naval ships that were detained this Sunday in the Kerch Strait. According to him they were carrying out combat operations of the counter-intelligence for the Ukrainian Navy. In response, Russian FSB defined the presence of intelligence officers on board the Ukrainian vessels as a “provocation” organized by Ukraine.
On Monday, Ukrainian lawmakers voted to impose 30-day martial law in regions bordering Russia, or adjacent to regions where Russian troops are posted, starting on November 28. That includes regions bordering the Azov and Black Seas and a portion of the border with Moldova’s Transnistria region, where Russian troops are stationed.
In a phone conversation with German chancellor, Angela Merkel, Russian President has voiced his “serious concern” about Ukraine’s decision, hoping the German leader would influence the Ukrainian authorities in a way “to dissuade them from further reckless acts.”
Possibility to be imposed new sanctions against Russia in order to be punished for the Kerch incident, have been raised by senior politicians from Germany, Austria, Poland and Estonia. But according to the West this would lead to a wider conflict.
UN secretary general Antonio Guterres, expressed in a statement that he was “greatly concerned” about the incident and urges Russia and Ukraine to use “maximum restraint” and “to reduce tensions through all available peaceful means in accordance with the Charter of the UN”, avoiding further escalations.
In her talks with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel also emphasized the need for de-escalation and dialogue, reports her spokesman.
Last Sunday, the Russian border forces opened fire and captured three Ukrainian vessels and the crew in the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from the Russian mainland. Three Ukrainian sailors were wounded during the incident, for which Ukraine says that its ships had traveled in shared waters on a routine passage to the Sea of Azov which they have a right to patrol under a bilateral treaty, while Russia states that the Ukrainian Navy vessels had violated its state border. Russia naval presence in the region and seeking to restrict the Ukrainian access has been built since May, when it was completed the bridge across the Strait.
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Sources: The Guardian, TASS