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Lavrov comments on Kerch Strait provocation

November 26, 2018, 14:57 UTC+3

On November 25, three Ukrainian warships illegally crossed Russia’s state border in the Black Sea and entered Russia’s territorial waters performing dangerous maneuvers

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© Mikhail Pochuev/TASS

MOSCOW, November 26. /TASS/. The November 25 provocation in the Kerch Strait was apparently conducted under the direct order of Ukraine’s authorities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Monday.

"The fact that it was done under the goodwill and direct order of the leadership is undoubtable," he said, commenting on the violation of the Russian border by Ukrainian ships on November 25.

"When the Ukrainian side was planning this provocation, they must have calculated the additional benefits they wanted to derive from this situation expecting the US and Europe to blindly support the instigators, as usual," he added.

The Russian foreign minister added that it is hard for him to name the goals of Kiev’s leadership. "The Group of Twenty [meeting] 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," he went on.

Martial law declaration

Martial law declaration may give a free hand to Ukrainian radical nationalists, Lavrov said. 

"We need to keep a close eye on the situation [in Donbass]," he said. "Violations of international humanitarian law have already become common there, which include the shelling of settlements and social facilities, and civilian deaths. If martial law is declared, then radical nationalists may feel that they have been given a free hand," the Russian top diplomat added.

"We strongly call on Kiev’s western sponsors to calm down those who are trying to take advantage from military hysteria and score political points in relation to the upcoming elections and other events taking place in Ukraine," Lavrov said.

According to the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), on Sunday morning, three ships from the Ukrainian Navy - the Berdyansk, the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu - illegally crossed Russia’s border and tried to carry out some illegal actions in Russian territorial waters on Sunday night. They ignored legitimate demands to stop issued by vessels belonging to the FSB Border Service and the Black Sea Fleet and continued maneuvering dangerously. In order to stop the Ukrainian ships, weapons had to be used. The three vessels were detained in Russian territorial waters. Three Ukrainian military servicemen suffered light wounds and were provided with medical assistance.

A criminal investigation has been opened into the border incident. The FSB said that evidence proving Kiev’s plans to carry out a provocation in the Black Sea would soon be made public.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) has come up with an initiative to declare a 60-day martial law in the country over the situation in the Kerch Strait. The Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine’s parliament) is expected to consider the initiative at an emergency meeting later on Monday. According to NSDC Secretary Alexander Turchinov, martial law may be lifted any time "if that the situation improves."

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