Three Ukrainian vessels were seized after Russia sent two fighter jets and two helicopters to the area in the waters off the Crimean Peninsula. The incident happened last night through the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, the passage was temporarily closed but that has since re-opened. The Russian Security Service (FSB) said the ships ignored “legal demands to stop” and performed “dangerous manoeuvres”. The FSB confirmed “weapons have been used” and three servicemen were “wounded” in the operation.
The FSB said: “For the purpose of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships, weapons have been used.
“As a result, in the territorial waters of the Russian Federation in the Black Sea, all three vessels of the Ukrainian navy were detained.
“Three wounded servicemen of the Ukrainian armed forces received medical assistance. There are no threats to their lives.”
Kiev claimed Moscow was notified in advance that its navy ships would be sailing through the area.
However Moscow denies that it was given proper warning.
Under a 2003 treaty between the governments in Moscow and Kiev, the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov are shared territorial waters.
But recently Russia began inspecting all vessels sailing to or from Ukrainian ports.
Alexei Volkov, the director general of the Crimean Sea Ports company said the incident was “premeditated” by the Ukraine to send a warning message to the West about the Kremlin.
Mr Volkov said: “Obviously, it was a provocation, with its time, location and form premeditated. The aims are clear: to shake Ukraine up via imposing martial law, and to mobilise the anti-Russian policies of the West, to step up the anti-Russian sanctions.
“Obviously, it is easier for Poroshenko to carry out his election campaign amid this background.”
Petro Poroshenko has said he will propose his country’s parliament should declare martial law for 60 days in response to Russia.
Martial law allows the Ukrainian government to limit a range of civil freedoms otherwise protected by the constitution, such as the freedom of the press, freedom of movement, and the freedom of assembly.
Under martial law, Kiev can, for instance, introduce restrictions on travel up to barring residents from leaving the country altogether.
Speaking at a press conference Mr Poroshenko called for NATO’s intervention to “coordinate our actions to ensure the protection of Ukraine”.
He added: “We appeal to the whole pro-Ukrainian international coalition: We must unite efforts.”