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Martial law in Ukraine negative factor for Minsk process, says Russia's envoy

Martial law ahead of the elections, declared by the Ukrainian authorities, is a negative factor for the Minsk process, the diplomat noted

MINSK, December 4./TASS/. The Russian delegation to the Contact Group for the settlement in eastern Ukraine emphasizes that the imposition of martial law in ten Ukrainian regions, initiated by President Pyotr Poroshenko, will have a negative effect on a peace process in Donbass, Russia’s envoy to the Contact Group on Ukraine, Boris Gryzlov, said after a session in Minsk on Tuesday.

Gryzlov said the Contact Group on Tuesday discussed the consequences of the martial law imposed in Ukraine. "The fact that certain OSCE representatives in working subgroups tried to act beyond their mandate, deviate from their mediatory role, offering for discussion the issues that are not related to the Ukrainian settlement, raises brows," the envoy said.

"Martial law ahead of the elections, declared by the Ukrainian authorities, is a negative factor for the Minsk process. The actions taken by the official Kiev raise the level of danger for the residents of Donbass and additionally worsen the humanitarian situation," the envoy said.

He also said that the Russian delegation had drawn attention of European security agency representatives to negative consequences from moves by the Ukrainian authorities and their noncompliance with the Minsk agreement, adding that these moves "widen the gap between Donbass and Kiev".

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, earlier endorsed President Pyotr Poroshenko’s decree on imposing martial law for a period of 30 days from November 28 in the Vinnitsa, Lugansk, Nikolayev, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, as well as in Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Sea of Azov.

The pretext for the decision to declare martial law was the recent border violation clash in the Kerch Strait on November 25, when three Ukrainian naval ships breached the current rules of passage from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. The intruding Ukrainian vessels illegally crossed the Russian state border, trespassed into Russian territorial waters and conducted dangerous maneuvers. In defiance of repeated warnings and demands to stop, the Ukrainian ships kept violating the law by continuing their risky maneuvers, which drove the Russian forces to use gunfire in order to compel them to stop.

As a result, all three ships were detained. In addition, three Ukrainians injured in the incident were given medical assistance. A criminal case was opened over the violation of the Russian state border. Moscow described the incident as a provocation.