*UPDATE 2:42PM: Ukraine’s parliament has approved “martial law for 30 days in the regions bordering” Russia.

The undeclared war between Ukraine and Russia took a horrific turn on Sunday after Ukraine claimed that Russia opened fire on its navy in the Kerch Strait, which separates the Black and Azoz Seas.

The attack wounded six sailors and Russia seized at least three Ukrainian vessels.

Ukraine‘s “Military Cabinet passed a resolution to impose a martial law.” President Petro Poroshenko plans to “appeal to the Ukrainian parliament to approve his declaration of martial law.”

The Attack

Russia’s coast guard claimed that three Ukrainian vessels “trespassed its territorial waters” and opened fire. Military vessels do not have permission to enter the Kerch Strait. From The Kyiv Post:

In a shootout, Ukraine’s small armored artillery boats Berdyansk and Nikopol sustained damages and were immobilized. Ukrainian tugboat Yani Kapu had been rammed by a Russian coast guard ship Don earlier in the morning.

All three vessels have been seized by a Russian special operations unit, the Ukrainian Navy press service reported.

Reportedly, at least six Ukrainian naval officers have been wounded.

However, Ukraine’s Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko said that there were 23 naval officers on three military boats that were arrested by Russians. Ukrainian officials have no contact with the rest of the personnel of the detained vessels.

The Ukrainian Navy’s website http://navy.mil.gov.ua/ has been down due to DDos attack.

Russia stole the Crimean peninsula away from Ukraine in 2014. The Kremlin “claimed territorial waters off the peninsula’s coast that Ukraine does not recognize.” However, the two countries signed a treaty years ago before annexation “designating the sea as shared territorial water.”

Ukraine stated that Russia violated that treaty and the United Nations Law of the Sea.

Martial Law

Martial law is serious. If imposed, it “could lead to widespread compulsory military service, restrictions on media and public demonstrations and suspension of elections, among other measures.”

Poroshenko told officials: “We have irrefutable evidence that today’s aggression against Ukrainian Navy boats was not an error or coincidence. It was an aimed action, including opening fire on Ukrainian naval personnel.”

Mustafa Nayyem, a member of parliament, said this situation “grows more complicated by the fact that during martial law, it is forbidden to hold presidential, parliamentary or local elections, as well as strikes, protests, rallies and mass actions.”

Russia and Ukraine have been involved in this undeclared war since the spring of 2014. Poroshenko has not called for martial law even as east Ukraine remains a war zone between Ukrainians and pro-Russia separatists supported by Russia.

Ukraine’s parliament passed the bill “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law.”

The Kyiv Post offered more details on what martial law will do to society:

  • Increased security and special operation regimes for critical economic and infrastructure sites. The Cabinet of Ministers would confirm a list of sites requiring additional security.
  • Citizens could be obliged to carry out socially necessary work. Any citizen capable of working can be forced to work at a defense facility instead of doing their regular job.
  • The state could take control of private, communal, or state company property if necessary.
  • The state could regulate telecommunications, radio, and printing companies and infrastructure; mass media; and cultural organizations for wartime needs. Restrictions could be placed on amateur radio and the transmission of information through computer networks. That state can also use this infrastructure to spread information aimed at the military and/or the population.
  • A ban on peaceful protests, marches, gatherings, and other mass events.
  • Within the constitutional and legal framework, the state can ban political activities it deems detrimental to state security. These could include everything from activities aimed at ending the existence of Ukraine as a state to those promoting interethnic hatred.
  • Evacuating the population and material or cultural valuables if their safety is in danger. Again, the Cabinet would play a key role in determining what this includes.
  • Managers at enterprises and organizations could be fired for poor work performance and replaced with acting managers.
  • The government could pass additional measures to guard state secrecy.
  • Citizens of a foreign state that threatens Ukraine with aggression or an attack could be subject to forced relocation and internment.
  • Special rules for the production and sale of potent medications containing narcotic or psychotropic components. The Cabinet would determine the list of medications.
  • The state can limit relocation of its citizens, as well as foreigners.
  • A curfew.
  • A ban on selling alcohol.
  • Citizens can be ordered to host military personnel or internally displaced civilians in their homes.

Western Reaction

People like me have been screaming for NATO and the EU to accept Ukraine as a member. Until then, there’s only so much the West can do except “closely monitoring” the situation and sending Russia strongly worded letters.

Years ago when pro-Russia separatists shot down a commercial airplane and killed almost 300 people, the West didn’t lift a finger…even though their citizens perished in the attack.

Anyway, NATO and the EU supplied their usual statements:

NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu released a statement saying that NATO is closely monitoring developments in the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait and is in contact with the Ukrainian authorities.

“We call for restraint and de-escalation,” Langescu’s statement read on behalf of NATO. “NATO fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and its territorial integrity, including its navigational rights in its territorial waters. We call on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law.”

Maja Kocijančič, the spokesperson for Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union Foreign Affairs & Security Policy, also urged Russia to restore freedom of passage through the Kerch Strait and de-escalate immediately.

“The events in the Sea of Azov are a demonstration of how instability and tensions are bound to rise when the basic rules of international cooperation are disregarded,” Kocijančič’s statement read.

Nikki Haley announced on Twitter that the UN Security Council will convene for an emergency meeting on Monday.


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