(National Sentinel) War Drums: The Russian government is refusing to turn over three Ukrainian navy ships it seized in the Sea of Azov on Sunday, an action that led Kiev’s government to declare martial law and put its entire military on full combat alert.

Russian navy ships fired on the Ukrainian vessels injuring at least six sailors after claiming they violated sovereign Russian territory.

Moscow is describing all three vessels as “warships,” but one of them is a tugboat and the other two are “artillery” ships that are smaller than a frigate.

The U.S. strongly condemned Russia’s actions. Speaking at the United Nations, Amb. Nikki Haley, said, “We strongly support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters. We express our deep concern over the incident, which represent a dangerous escalation and violation of international law.”

The confrontation also led to an emergency meeting between NATO and Ukrainian officials on Monday, Great Power War reported.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian media has been circulating video that purports to show a Russian warship slamming into a Ukrainian vessel.

Ukrainian officials have decried Moscow’s “warmongering,” while placing all armed forces on full alert.

“We have all irrefutable evidence that this aggression, this attack on the Ukrainian navy’s warships, was not a mistake, not an accident, but a deliberate action,” said President Petro Poroshenko, who issued a decree on Monday imposing martial law for 30 days.

Source: RT.com

For its part, Moscow is claiming the Ukrainian vessels violated sovereign waters around the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014 by force.

“When the Ukrainian side was planning this provocation, they must have calculated the additional benefits they wanted to derive from this situation expecting the U.S. and Europe to blindly support the instigators, as usual,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

“The Group of Twenty in Buenos Aires is approaching. The Ukrainians also submitted a draft resolution on the militarization of the Sea of Azov at the UN General Assembly more than a week ago, and they must have thought it important to glean facts for this meaningless document which they spread in the UN,” Lavrov added, in reference to a complaint Kiev has filed with the United Nations regarding Russia’s ongoing military buildup in the Sea of Azov and Black Sea, its interference with Ukrainian shipping, and its annexation of Crimea.

On Tuesday, the Kremlin warned that Ukraine’s declaration of martial law could lead to another “flare-up” as tensions have steadily increased since the seizure of Kiev’s ships.

A court Tuesday in the Crimean capital of Simferopol ordered one of the Ukrainian sailors to be kept in jail until Jan. 26.

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