ibusinesslines.com December 16, 2018

Angela Merkel condemns Russian aggression during summit with Putin

03 December 2018, 09:13 | Erica Roy

Russia massing troops, weapons at Ukraine border – Kiev

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko addresses soldiers as he inspects military exercises in the Ukrainian Ground Forces training centre near Honcharivske in Chernihiv region Ukraine

"Moscow is trying to create a land corridor from occupied Donbas to occupied Crimea by blockading Mariupol and Berdyansk", Poroshenko said in the interview, referring to two Ukrainian cities on the coast of the Sea of Azov.

"Kerch Strait is closed". However, Russia claimed it had been forced to act as Ukrainian ships illegally entered its waters to "intentionally" provoke a conflict.

On Sunday, a Kremlin spokesman said that Western leaders had listened to Russia's description of the events in the Kerch Strait last week.

In response Mr Poroshenko declared martial law in 10 Ukrainian regions which are close to Russian Federation.

Asked if he might consider exchanging the captive sailors for Russians in Ukrainian detention, Putin said: "We are not considering a swap and Ukraine did not raise this issue, and it's too early to talk about that", Putin said when asked if he would considering exchanging the sailors for Russians detained by Ukraine.

Olga Smirnova, a member of the Solidarity democratic organization and the organizer of the pickets, believes that the seizure of three Ukrainian military vessels and the capture of sailors signifies a new attempt by the Russian Federation to increase the zone of occupation of Ukrainian territories with weapons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed last weekend's Black Sea clash as a minor border incident and accused Poroshenko of engineering what he called a "provocation" to boost his flagging popularity before an election next year.

"There is no justification for this use of force", NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Monday.

Ukraine had stepped up security at critical infrastructure sites, including at nuclear and hydroelectric power plants, chemical factories and at ports on the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, Poroshenko said.

Four days before the Ukraine naval vessel incident, Mr Williamson announced HMS Echo would deploy to the Black Sea in 2019, and in January and February personnel from all the UK's armed forces would engage in military training in Ukraine.

Ukraine said its soldiers were injured after a Russian border guard vessel allegedly rammed into one of its tugboats in the Kerch Strait, a narrow body of water that gives access to the Sea of Azov and is used by both nations.

Poroshenko said he tried to arrange a phone call with Putin to discuss the standoff but the Kremlin has refused.

It comes after Russian forces seized a number of Ukrainian ships and their crews following an altercation in the Sea of Azov.

The Russian leader's spokesman said "no such conversation is planned".

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