Kerch crisis deepens: Russia prepares to bring charges against Ukraine sailors
Moscow, Nov 28: The latest crisis between Russia and Ukraine deepened with the former preparing to bring charges against the Ukrainian soldiers it held on Sunday, November 25, despite protests from Kiev that they should be handled as prisoners of war, the Guardian reported.
On Tuesday, November 27, the Kremlin said the sailors' fate would be decided in the court, suggesting that it was planning to bring criminal charges. Media in Russia and Ukraine reported that the sailors would be accused at a court in Simferopol in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, said the Guardian report.
If Russia decides to prosecute the sailors on charges of making illegal crossing of the border, it is likely to deepen the crisis which has led to international condemnation and demand for fresh western sanctions against Moscow.
Russian border forces were accused of firing on and seizing three Ukrainian ships last weekend. At least three sailors were injured.
Ukraine gives nod to impose martial law over half of country
Meanwhile, following the incident near the Kerch Strait, the Ukrainian Parliament gave nod to impose a martial law over nearly half of the country, Ukraine's Euromaidan Press reported. The martial law was imposed for a month with chances of prolongation. The martial law will come into force from November 28 and continue till December 27. A large majority of 276 MPs out of 330 who took part in the voting backed the bill, the Press report added.
On Monday, November 26, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said there was an "extremely serious" threat to a land invasion by Russia, the Guardian reported.
According to Ukraine, its sailors were travelling in shared waters to the Sea of Azov, which they have a right to patrol under a bilateral treaty. They were intercepted in the Kerch Strait, which separates Crimea from Russian mainland.