Ukraine’s parliament voted Monday to impose martial law in the country to fight what its president called “growing aggression” from Moscow after a weekend naval confrontation off the disputed Crimean Peninsula in which Russia fired on and seized three Ukrainian vessels amid renewed tensions between the neighbors. They are presenting this as a “partial mobilization” of the military as officials hype the possibility of a real war with Russia.
Russia attacks Ukrainian ships – Ships hijacked,
Sunday’s maritime incident between Russia and Ukraine in the Sea of Azov has led to an emergency NATO meeting and a flurry of condemnations from the US and other member nations against Russia.
On Sunday, Russia seized three Ukrainian navy boats for entering a closed part of the Sea of Azov. Russia said the area was closed as part of a security effort, while Ukraine says the boats did nothing wrong.
At a UN meeting, Ambassador Nikki Haley condemned Russia’s actions as “outrageous,” and said they amounted to a “violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory.” That does not appear to be the case, even in the Ukrainian government’s version of events.
NATO officials also expressed “full support” for Ukraine, and reiterated complaints about the 2014 Crimean secession from Ukraine, and subsequent accession into the Russian Federation.
German officials also issued a statement, saying it was “unacceptable” for Russia to block off its own part of the Sea of Azov, and that they consider the matter worrying.
The martial law will formally begin on Wednesday, and last for 30 days. President Petro Poroshenko said he intends to respect the rights of individual Ukrainian citizens during this period.
Importantly, Ukrainian officials are emphasizing that this move is short of a declaration of war on Russia. On Sunday, officials had said the National Security and Defense Council was meeting and intended to declare a “state of war,” though it does not appear any public declaration happened.
On Sunday, three Ukrainian ships crossed into Russian territorial waters, and were seized. Russia said this area of the Sea of Azov was closed for security reasons. Ukraine is demanding the return of the ships and the sailors. Russia says they are temporarily impounded, and that the three sailors wounded in the incident have already been treated and are in no medical danger.
Russian officials are downplaying the incident as a minor one, while Ukrainian officials are already identifying a series of border areas that they expect ground troops to invade. Ukraine has been predicting a Russian invasion for years.
As is often the case, the US and NATO are embracing the Ukrainian narrative, and condemning Russia. Such condemnations come as a matter of course, but so far, are stopping short of any threats to escalate this militarily into a global war.