Ukraine: Huge Russian military buildup on border

Leroy Wright
December 3, 2018

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday there had been no discussion with Ukraine about the possible release of the Ukrainian sailors who were seized along with their ships by Russia last month.

The naval clash came as the Ukrainian ships sailed to the Kerch Strait, the only waterway leading into the Sea of Azov and the site of a new key Russian bridge linking occupied Crimea with the Russian mainland.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has renewed a call for "Germany and the allies" to increase their naval presence in the Black Sea in order to be a "deterring factor" for Russian Federation.

Also on November 29, Ukrainian Minister of Infrastructure Volodymyr Omelyan said that the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk were "effectively under blockade", and that ships were not allowed to leave or arrive at these ports.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his American colleague Donald Trump about the incident with the Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait. But following Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea, Moscow has asserted greater control over the passage.

"It's an absurd statement", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. The church dispute and a November 25 naval clash in the Black Sea have caused them to deteriorate further.

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'Ukraine is taking its own steps in response to the threat of a large-scale Russian invasion, ' the Ukrainian leader said.

"In the waters of the Black Sea, Sea of Azov, and Aegean Sea, more than 80 ships and 8 submarines are on patrol - including 23 combat vessels and 6 submarines", he declared.

Poroshenko said Monday that some reservists will be summoned for training as part of martial law.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko responded by introducing martial law for 30 days in the country's border areas and barring all Russian males aged 16 to 60 from entering the country, a move he said was needed to prevent Russia from assembling destabilizing forces in Ukraine.

The Kremlin on Monday called absurd a Ukrainian accusation it has designs on the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk in order to create a land corridor between Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists. An unsteady cease-fire has been in place there since 2015. "The ship's logs of the detained Ukrainian ships contain the task to penetrate the territorial waters of Russian Federation, and this is confirmed by the sailors' testimony".

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Sunday that Orthodox Christians would be free to remain part of the Russian branch of the church following the establishment of an autocephalous Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

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