Ukraine/Russia tensions

This item appears on page 16 of the January 2019 issue.

The Russian Coast Guard opened fire on three Ukrainian naval ships near Crimea, the peninsula at the south of Ukraine, on Nov. 26, eventually capturing the ships and detaining their crews, all to international condemnation. At least six Ukrainians were injured. Crimea, almost universally recognized as part of Ukraine, was annexed by Russia in 2014.

The next day, Ukraine declared 30 days of martial law in 10 regions, five of which border Russia. The order gives the country's military more policing power and could later include a civilian draft.

Traveling from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov toward Ukraine's eastern coast, the ships were attempting to pass through the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from mainland Russia to the east. Ukraine and Russia had signed a treaty to allow Ukrainian ships to pass through the strait.

This act was the first direct engagement between Russian and Ukrainian forces in years, though Russian "volunteers" and weapons have been assisting separatist groups in a civil war in eastern Ukraine since 2014.