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Ukraine’s president warns ‘We are under threat of full-scale war with Russia’

Ukraine’s president has warned of the threat of ‘full-scale war’ with Russia amid escalating tensions between the ex-Soviet neighbours.

Petro Poroshenko said ‘I don’t want anyone to think this is fun and games’ as he addressed the crisis which unfolded when Russian forces seized three Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea.

He also warned his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had sharply increased its military presence on their shared border.

It comes as Moscow revealed a cache of weapons it claimed were seized from the Ukrainian warships detained off the Crimean coast on Sunday. 

Ukraine’s president has warned of the threat of ‘full-scale war’ with Russia amid escalating tensions between the ex-Soviet neighbours. Russia says these weapons were seized from Ukrainian ships off Crimea on Sunday

Moscow revealed a cache of weapons it claimed were seized from the Ukrainian warships detained off the Crimean coast on Sunday

Moscow revealed a cache of weapons it claimed were seized from the Ukrainian warships detained off the Crimean coast on Sunday

Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko said 'I don't want anyone to think this is fun and games' as he addressed the crisis which unfolded when Russian forces seized three Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea

Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko said ‘I don’t want anyone to think this is fun and games’ as he addressed the crisis which unfolded when Russian forces seized three Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea

Yesterday, a Crimean court ordered three of the captured men to be held in custody for the next two months on accusations of crossing into Russian territory illegally

Yesterday, a Crimean court ordered three of the captured men to be held in custody for the next two months on accusations of crossing into Russian territory illegally

Yesterday, a Crimean court ordered three of the captured men to be held in custody for the next two months on accusations of crossing into Russian territory illegally 

The FSB security service claims three Ukrainian warships it detained were staging a provocation close to Crimea which Putin annexed in 2014.

The naval ships were equipped with four 30mm guns, four AGS-17 automatic grenade launchers and four PKT machineguns, said the counterintelligence agency.

It said two 12.7mm DShK machineguns, 13 AK-47 submachine guns, four handguns, a rubber-bullet gun, a flare gun and more than 765 high-explosive fragmentation shells of 30mm caliber were found onboard. They also said they discovered 1,975 charges for use by VOG-17 grenade launchers and 495 other charges plus 40 RG-42 hand grenades, and 20 RGD grenades.

There were other munitions and 15 ‘knife bayonets’.

Each vessel had two artillery systems during the incident, said the FSB .

‘The Ukrainian navy ships were put on combat alert, with covers removed from the artillery systems and barrels being raised to an angle of 45 degrees and pointed at the Russian ships and boats,’ said a security service source.

Russia says the captured Ukrainian naval ships were equipped with four 30mm guns, four AGS-17 automatic grenade launchers and four PKT machineguns

Russia says the captured Ukrainian naval ships were equipped with four 30mm guns, four AGS-17 automatic grenade launchers and four PKT machineguns

The FSB security service claims three Ukrainian warships it detained were staging a provocation close to Crimea which Putin annexed in 2014. It said these weapons were found on board

The FSB security service claims three Ukrainian warships it detained were staging a provocation close to Crimea which Putin annexed in 2014. It said these weapons were found on board

A picture has emerged apparently showing a cannon hole in one of the Ukrainian ships targeted by a Russian coastguard vessel in the Black Sea on Sunday

A picture has emerged apparently showing a cannon hole in one of the Ukrainian ships targeted by a Russian coastguard vessel in the Black Sea on Sunday

A 2003 treaty designated the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov (shown) as shared territorial waters, but Russia has been asserting greater control over the passage since 2015

‘The Russia side warned the Ukrainian ships that a threat of the use of weapons in the Russian territorial waters will be considered as violation of norms of international law and Russia’s legislation.’

Russia claims it was forced to use weapons to stop a Ukrainian ‘provocation’ in the flashpoint Kerch Strait.

At least three Ukrainian servicemen were wounded.

Images of one of the Ukrainian vessels, the Berdyansk, shows clear signs of damage from the weekend conflict.

The other detained warships were the Nikopol and the Yany Kapu.

Russia has released filmed 'confessions' of three Ukrainian sailors captured after their ships were fired on by Vladimir Putin's forces in the Black Sea

Russia has released filmed 'confessions' of three Ukrainian sailors captured after their ships were fired on by Vladimir Putin's forces in the Black Sea

Russia has released filmed ‘confessions’ of three Ukrainian sailors captured after their ships were fired on by Vladimir Putin’s forces in the Black Sea

The servicemen appear to read from scripts in the FSB secret service footage and admit straying in to Russian waters despite repeated warnings to leave

The servicemen appear to read from scripts in the FSB secret service footage and admit straying in to Russian waters despite repeated warnings to leave

Amid heightened tensions, Moscow today accused the US – which has given its backing to Ukraine – of deploying a naval Boeing P-8 Poseidon close to Crimean airspace in defiance of Russian warnings to desist such flights.

The American anti-submarine patrol aircraft with tail number168848 spotted overflying the Black Sea is designed to detect and destroy enemy submarines in areas of patrol, reconnaissance, participation in anti-ship and rescue operations.

‘The Russian Defence Ministry has repeatedly called on Washington to abandon such operations, but the Pentagon has refused,’ reported state-funded news agency Sputnik.

It reportedly flew 19 miles from the Crimean coastline.

Poroshenko claimed that his country’s existence as an independent state hangs in the balance.

‘I don’t want anyone to think this is fun and games. Ukraine is under threat of full-scale war with Russia,’ he said in an interview with national television.

Russian units deployed along the border between the two countries have ‘grown dramatically’ while the number of Russian tanks tripled, he alleged.

Donald Trump has threatened to cancel a scheduled meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Argentina this week.

Andrey Artyomenko

Andrey Eyder

Three of those hurt in the conflict have been named as Andrey Artyomenko (left), 24, Andrey Eyder (right), 18, and Vasily Soroka, 27

Ukrainian ships are detained in Kerch Strait on November 25, 2018 in this still image from video released by Russian Federal Security Service

Ukrainian ships are detained in Kerch Strait on November 25, 2018 in this still image from video released by Russian Federal Security Service

Ukrainian ships detained in Kerch Strait on Sunday are docked in this still image from video released by Russian Federal Security

Ukrainian ships detained in Kerch Strait on Sunday are docked in this still image from video released by Russian Federal Security

Vladimir Putin (pictured) says he is 'seriously concerned' about Ukraine's martial law decision after Russian forces captured three of Kiev's ships

Vladimir Putin (pictured) says he is ‘seriously concerned’ about Ukraine’s martial law decision after Russian forces captured three of Kiev’s ships

‘I don’t like that aggression,’ he told the Washington Post.

A court in Russian-controlled Crimea ordered 15 of the Ukrainian sailors to be detained for two months pending a possible trial.

Filmed confessions showed some of the 24 sailors admitting to being part of a pre-planned provocation.

But some Western nations have urged new sanctions against Russia over the incident. Kiev has demanded the release of the sailors.

The simmering conflict between the two ex-Soviet states has seen more than 10,000 killed since 2014.

Putin on Tuesday warned Ukraine against any ‘reckless acts’ after Kiev declared martial law in response to Moscow’s seizure of the navy vessels. 

Russia and Ukraine: Key moments in their relationship

Ties between Russia and Ukraine have been turbulent since the fall of the Soviet Union, but deteriorated sharply after Kiev’s 2014 pro-EU revolution.

Amid a new peak in tensions over a naval standoff in the Sea of Azov, here is a recap of key moments in their relationship.

Limited Soviet independence

In December 1991 Ukraine votes in favour of independence from the Soviet Union in a referendum.

Russian president Boris Yeltsin accepts the vote and Russia, Ukraine and Belarus set up a Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

But over the next five years, Ukraine seeks ways to escape Russia’s guardianship.

Perceiving the CIS as an attempt to bring it back under Moscow’s control, it turns towards the West and seeks ties with the US-led NATO military alliance – a no-go for Russia.

Friendship treaty

In May 1997 Russia and Ukraine sign a friendship treaty that reconciles them but without removing a main source of tension: Kiev’s ties with NATO.

It settles a key disagreement by allowing Russia to retain ownership of the majority of ships in the Black Sea fleet based in Ukraine’s Crimea while requiring that Moscow pay Kiev rent to use the port of Sevastopol.

Moscow however remains Kiev’s most important commercial partner, with Ukraine totally dependent on Russian oil and gas.

Pro-West Kiev

Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election is marred by fraud and the victory of the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych provokes unprecedented protests in the peaceful Orange Revolution.

Ukraine's 2004 presidential election was marred by fraud and the victory of the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych (pictured) provoked unprecedented protests in the peaceful Orange Revolution

Ukraine’s 2004 presidential election was marred by fraud and the victory of the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych (pictured) provoked unprecedented protests in the peaceful Orange Revolution

It leads the vote to be cancelled and in December pro-Western opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko is made president.

In January 2005 Yushchenko makes his first trip to Russia in a bid for reconciliation.

The ‘gas wars’

In January 2006 Russian gas monopoly Gazprom suspends vital shipments to Ukraine after months of disputes over the price. The cut affects onward deliveries to European countries hit by a cold snap.

Russia again in January 2009 halts gas deliveries to Ukraine owing to the non-payment of debts, also suspending for two weeks all shipments to Europe via Ukraine.

There is another halt of several months in 2014 over outstanding payments from Ukraine, which is resolved after marathon EU-brokered talks.

Pro-European uprising

In November 2013 Yanukovych, president since 2010, suspends talks on a trade and political pact with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Russia.

It sparks weeks of massive protests by pro-European opposition groups demanding the pro-Russian ruler quits.

The uprising, centred on Kiev’s Independence (Maidan) Square, comes to a head in February 2014 when police fire on protesters.

Nearly 90 people are killed, bringing the toll from the three-month uprising to around 100.

Yanukovych flees to Russia and an interim government is installed.

Russia annexes Crimea

Pro-Russian demonstrators clash in February 2014 with supporters of the new interim authorities in Simferopol, the capital of the Crimea peninsula.

Russian gunmen seize parliament and government buildings, and raise the Russian flag.

Pro-Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms arrange a position on top an APC near Ukrainian marines base in the city of Feodosia, Crimea, on March 23, 2014

Pro-Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms arrange a position on top an APC near Ukrainian marines base in the city of Feodosia, Crimea, on March 23, 2014

On March 16 pro-Moscow officials in Crimea hold a referendum on seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.

An overwhelming 97 percent of Crimeans vote in favour, although the move is deemed illegal by Kiev and Western capitals.

Two days later Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a treaty absorbing Crimea into Russia.

Separatist rebellion

In April 2014 a pro-Russian rebellion erupts in Ukraine’s industrial eastern areas with demonstrators seizing local government buildings.

Pro-Russian officials in Donetsk and Lugansk declare their regions to be independent.

Ukraine and its Western allies accuse Russia of instigating the uprising and pouring in arms and troops to bolster the self-proclaimed republics. The Kremlin denies the claims. The conflict has since then left more than 10,000 people dead.

By AFP 

 

 

 

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