From November 28, the special regime of martial law will start in ten Ukrainian regions - Vinnytsia, Luhansk, Donetsk, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Sumy, Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Kherson, Zaporizhia, as well as in the internal waters of the Azov-Kerch Strait. The order of the president on the imposing of the martial law for 60 days from November 26 was published at Uryadovy Kuryer. According to part two, Article 190 of the regulation of the Verkhovna Rada, “the proper order of the president of Ukraine comes into force as it is approved by the Verkhovna Rada and immediately announced through the mass media or published by another way.”
Adopting the regulation, the MPs urged the international community to assume the effective measures to stop the Russian aggression on both, land and sea, including the use of the new sanctions and extension of the current until the full recovery of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the internationally recognized borders.
Before adoption, three Ukraine’s former presidents – Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma, and Viktor Yushchenko – presented an appeal, diplomatically warning of the martial law consequences: “Martial law is, first and foremost a radical restriction of the rights of Ukrainian citizens, including the total prohibition of strikes, mass gatherings, and rallies, the right to bans political parties and public organizations… Are these risks justified? Will this decision to introduce a martial law really help Ukraine in confronting an aggressor? During almost 5 years of the war with Russia, there were many moments when the introduction of a martial law seemed not only appropriate but also the only possible solution. Annexation of Crimea, the battle at Donetsk airport - 100 of the dead and 440 of wounded, Debaltseve battle - 136 dead, 131 wounded, Ilovaisk battle - 366 dead, 429 wounded and 300 missing. However, thousands of victims and the threat of full-scale enemy intervention then was not enough to introduce the martial law.”
One of Ukraine’s MPs Mustafa Nayem has commented on the situation with imposing martial law: “this whole story is complicated by the fact that, during martial law, the holding of presidential, parliamentary or local elections, as well as strikes, protests, rallies, and mass demonstrations are forbidden.”
The recent disturbing developments have provoked making such a radical decision. The hostilities began on November 25, when the Russian Federation prevented three vessels of Ukraine’s Navy Forces from passing beneath the bridge in the Kerch Strait. The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov. Thus, Russia has blocked the way with a cargo ship. The Russians shelled and seized the vessels of the Ukrainian Naval Forces “Berdyansk,” “Nikopol,” and “Yany Kapu,” which passed from Odesa (the Black Sea) to Mariupol (the Sea of Azov), moving through Kerch Strait. That is, two artillery ships and a tugboat were attacked and seized. According to the FSB, three Ukrainian sailors were wounded, but none of them were in a life-threatening condition.
‘November 25, the ships of the Ukrainian Navy with two armored gunboats and a sea mule tugboat have been carrying out a scheduled transition from Odesa port to Mariupol port in the Sea of Azov. The intention to make the transition was informed in advance in accordance with international standards in order to ensure the safety of navigation. However, contrary to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, the Russian coast guard ships - Sobol class patrol boat, Don border guard cruiser, Mangust class patrol boat and Suzdalets anti-submarine warfare ship performed blatantly aggressive acts against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy,’ Ukrainian side specified.
Russian FSB said its patrol boats had seized the three naval vessels as they entered Russian territorial waters illegally and carried out some provocative actions in order to create a conflict situation.
The ship of Ukrainian Maritime Border Guard approached the field, Russian Black Sea Fleet and Russia’s FSB Border Service Coast Guard ships using radio communications asked the Ukrainian ship about the purpose of being in the "economic zone of Russia." Having received an answer that the ship of the Maritime Border Guard of the SBGS is in service in the Maritime Economic Zone of Ukraine, they said they had no more questions.
Don border guard cruiser rammed the Ukrainian armored artillery boat, which led to the damage of the main engine, planting and accommodation rail, life float is lost. The Ukrainian Navy states that "the dispatcher service of the occupiers refuses to ensure the right of freedom of navigation, guaranteed by international agreements." Thus, according to the Ukrainian side, Russia has once again demonstrated its aggressive nature and complete disregard for the norms of international law.
The media have revealed the list of military sailors who have been aboard ships ‘Berdyansk’, ‘Nikopol,’ and ‘Yana Kapu.’ The relevant list was provided to Ukraine's TSN media outlet. Official sources reported on 23 detainees but the list the TSN received includes only 18 names. It is noted that not all of them were the members of the crew.
Permanent representatives of member countries of the EU in the UN Security Council expressed grave concern due to the situation escalation in the Sea of Azov and called Russia to release the Ukrainian sailors: “The Permanent Representatives of the Members from the European Union of the Security Council at informal exchanges of views, held on their request, of the members of the Security Council during their visit to Beijing, expressed grave concern about the recent escalation of tension in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait… Detained Ukrainian sailors should be freed and captured vessels returned.”
The UN Security Council blocked Russian-initiated consideration of the issue of the alleged “violation of borders” during the emergency session regarding the aggressive acts of the Russian Federation conducted against Ukraine in the Sea of Azov.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu stated: “NATO is closely monitoring developments in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait, and we are in contact with the Ukrainian authorities. We call for restraint and de-escalation.”
US President Donald Trump tweeted: “Europe has to pay their fair share for Military Protection. The European Union, for many years, has taken advantage of us on Trade, and then they don’t live up to their Military commitment through NATO. Things must change fast!”
During a phone conversation of the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko expressed concern about the escalation of Russian armed aggression and stated that she would do everything for de-escalation.
The U.S. Special Representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker stated: “Russia rams Ukrainian vessel peacefully traveling toward a Ukrainian port. Russia seizes ships and crew and then accuses Ukraine of provocation???”
Martial law in Ukraine is an attempt to get out of the current situation, Sergei Lavrov, Russian Foreign Minister, said. “Quite interest things are going on there (in Ukraine, - ed.) and I think, it won’t be boring to the ways the Ukrainian authority is basically trying to get out of the current situation,” Lavrov commented on the situation. He also added that Russian did not care about possible sanctions due to the situation in Kerch Strait.
November 26, Chargé d'Affaires of Ukraine in Moscow Ruslan Nimchynsky was called to the Foreign Ministry of Russia to whom the strong protest was expressed due to the grave violation of the rules of the peaceful pass in the territorial sea of the Russian Federation in the Black Sea by the ships of the Naval Forces of Ukraine.
Russian Embassy in Kyiv was pelted with the smoke bombs due to the escalation in the Azov area on November 26. The law enforcers did not allow the protesters to burn the tires. Besides, the protests took place near the buildings of the Russian diplomatic establishments in such Ukrainian cities as Kyiv, Lviv, Odesa, and Kharkiv. Russian Foreign Ministry urged Kyiv to provide the security of the Russian diplomats “to avoid the grave consequences.”