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Any provocation from Kiev may have drastic consequences, warns Russian diplomat

Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow intends to maintain "strategic tolerance"
Independence Square in central Kiev EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT
Independence Square in central Kiev

MOSCOW, December 19./TASS/. Ukraine’s provocations may trigger grave consequences, Russian Foreign Ministry's official spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

"The country and the people of Ukraine have been thrown back by decades, and now we see a country on fire," she said. "Many people are on the brink of despair, and others are beyond it. People face straightforward propaganda, wartime propaganda, and any provocation may have awful consequences," Zakharova said.

Moscow intends to maintain "strategic tolerance" as "we are speaking about fraternal people who are going through difficult times," she stressed.

Earlier today, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council Secretary Alexander Turchinov stated in an interview with the BBC that Ukraine has no plans to cease the passage of its military vessels through the Kerch Strait, and did not rule out the possibility of destroying the Crimean bridge. He added that Ukraine is ready to invite representatives of the OSCE, NATO and other international organizations to be present on Ukrainian vessels.

Kerch Strait incident

On November 26, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, endorsed President Pyotr Poroshenko’s decree on imposing a 30-day martial law in the Vinnitsa, Lugansk, Nikolayevsk, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, as well as Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Sea of Azov. Initially, Poroshenko sought to impose martial law for 60 days, but this put into question holding the March presidential elections and sparked a public outcry.

The pretext for the decision to declare martial law was an incident in the Kerch Strait on November 25, when three Ukrainian warships, en route from Odessa to Mariupol, illegally crossed Russia’s state border, entered Russia’s territorial waters and started performing dangerous maneuvers.

Despite the repeated warnings and demands to stop, the Ukrainian vessels continued their way, forcing Russia to use weapons. All three Ukrainian ships were detained in the Black Sea. Three Ukrainian servicemen were lightly wounded and received medical assistance, and their lives are not in danger. A criminal case has been launched over the violation of Russia’s state border. Moscow slammed the incident as a provocation.