Foreign Secretary condemns Russian aggression in the Sea of Azov

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Statements by three captured Ukrainians have been released by Russia's security service after Russian ships fired on and seized three Ukrainian boats off the coast of Russian-annexed Crimea. Six sailors were reportedly wounded. Following an intense hours-long game of cat-and-mouse and the blocked Ukrainians' attempt to break through, the guards saw no option but to open fire and seize the vessels.

The increasingly fraught situation around the sea has unfolded in parallel to the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, where fighting in recent years between Russian-backed separatists and the Ukrainian military has killed more than 10,000 people.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called it "a risky escalation and a violation of worldwide law".

The vote came upon a request from President Petro Poroshenko, who sought to "ensure the state's sovereignty and independence of Ukraine", a declaration on his website said.

With relations still raw after Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its backing for a pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine, the crisis risked pushing the two countries into open conflict.

Angrily. Ukraine called the attack on the ships an "act of aggression" and parliament voted to declare martial law in border territories, a measure it resisted even at the worst moments of the conflict in south-east Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin informed German Chancellor Angela Merkel that he is "seriously concerned" about the growing tensions between the two countries after the weekend incident and Ukraine's instituting martial law.

They have been held by Moscow since Sunday, after Russian forces captured three of Kiev's ships off the coast of Crimea, sparking the most risky crisis between the ex-Soviet neighbours in years.

Russian Federation holds over 20 sailors after seizing three of Kiev's ships off the coast of Crimea.

One of them appeared to be reading from a teleprompter, prompting suggestions from Kiev that they were forced to confess under duress.

Interfax news agency quoted Russia's human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, as saying on Monday that 24 Ukrainian sailors were being detained.

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"Weapons were used with the aim of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships".

A few hours earlier, President Donald Trump tweeted that European nations needed to "pay their fair share" for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation protection, adding, "Things must change fast".

"We do not like what's happening either way".

His Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov blamed Kiev for what he described as a "provocation", adding: "Ukraine had undoubtedly hoped to get additional benefits from the situation, expecting the USA and Europe to blindly take the provocateurs' side".

"I know those sailors from Nikopol". They are working on it, too. "This should be the stance of a court", the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, told reporters during a conference call.

"They have no hope to remain in power otherwise", he said, while condemning Western leaders for condoning what he called their "puppets" in Kyiv. She also warned that any further escalation by the Kremlin will "further sour Russia's relations with the US and many other countries".

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has urged both countries to use "maximum restraint" and avoid further escalation. The Security Council then discussed the clash under terms laid out by Ukraine.

The Russian foreign minister says Ukraine violated global law. Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said he had asked the Red Cross to visit the group.

"Hence, there are no Russian borders in the area where the incident happened".

The SBU responded to the Russian claims by saying that the SBU counterintelligence officers had been "carrying out duties to repel Russian aggression for over four years, alongside their comrades from the Armed Forces, the National Guard, and the State Border Guard Service".

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