Russia calls for urgent UN Security Council meeting over clash with Ukrainian ships in Black Sea
Moscow has called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting following an incident near Crimea that saw the Russian military detain Ukrainian warships for breaking into its territorial waters in violation of the UN convention.
Russia has called for the meeting "in connection to the dangerous developments in the Azov Sea and subsequent events,” Russia's First Deputy Permanent Representative at the UN, Dmitry Polyanskiy, told media late on Sunday.
The meeting is scheduled for Monday. “Maintenance of international peace and security” will be the sole item on its agenda, Polyanskiy said.
Earlier on Sunday, the Russian military opened fire and seized three Ukrainian Navy vessels it says entered Russian territorial waters near Crimea.
The Ukrainian vessels were sailing between two Ukrainian ports: from Odessa in the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Azov Sea. The only waterway that connects the two is the Kerch Strait between Crimea and mainland Russia. Kiev says it has notified Moscow in advance that its navy ships would be sailing through the area. Moscow denies it had been given the warning.
While both Russia and Ukraine have freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait under a 2003 treaty, there are detailed technical rules on how vessels should pass through the narrow, complex waterway. Because all traffic in the area is controlled by the Crimean sea port of Kerch, every ship should contact the facility, report her route and destination, and receive permission to sail through the Strait.
Three Ukrainian crew members were injured during the altercation and subsequently received treatment from Russian medics.
Russia has labeled the incident a deliberate provocation by the Ukrainian authorities, while Kiev denounced it as an “act of military aggression” and is about to declare martial law, pending approval by Ukrainian lawmakers.
Both parties accuse each other of violating international law, namely the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has already appealed to NATO and the EU, asking them to coordinate efforts for a potential rebuke to Russia.
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