Ukraine: Shipping traffic resumes following Russia standoff

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But at the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman called the Ukraine's leader's statement "absolutely absurd" and again accused him of provoking tensions before the presidential election there in March.

Speaking before the meeting, Stoltenberg urged Russian Federation to release the Ukrainian sailors and ships and allow freedom of navigation and unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine on Monday declared the imposition of martial law in its border regions for a month, a day after Russian Federation seized three of its navy vessels off the Crimean Peninsula.

Russian Federation plans to award medals to the border guards who fired on and seized Ukrainian sailors and ships during last week's confrontation in the Black Sea.

Petro Poroshenko army
Russia massing troops, weapons at Ukraine border – Kiev

Mathieu Boulegue, a research fellow with Russian Federation and Eurasia program at London's Chatham House think tank, said Poroshenko's move appeared to be "an attention-seeking reaction" that is likely to antagonize Moscow even further and play badly with the global community.

The vessels were on a mission to sail from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov and were operating in line with a 2003 treaty with Russian Federation that gave Ukrainian ships free passage through the strait.

Meanwhile, Russia has moved anti-ship missiles toward the Kerch Strait and deployed an additional battery of S-400 surface-to-air missiles.

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

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Russian Federation opened fire on and seized three Ukrainian navy ships and their crews on November 25 in an incident which Moscow and Kiev have blamed on each other, triggering a crisis that has raised fears of a wider conflict. "I replied to his questions about the incident in the Black Sea", Putin told reporters at the end of the summit. Azov Sea ports have seen their cargo turnover drop by about half in recent years because of additional lengthy inspections and restrictions stemming from the new bridge, it said.

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas made a statement a few hours after the foreign minister, also calling on Russian Federation to immediately release the Ukrainian ships seized and the naval personnel captured in the Kerch Strait and to take steps to alleviate tensions.

But Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, charged that the Ukrainian boats entered its territorial waters without permission.

The United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have strongly urged Russian Federation to free the Ukrainian vessels and the crews.

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The recent conflict between Russian Federation and Ukraine in the Kerch Strait should serve as a reminder to European allies of the United States why the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is a "bad idea", a senior State Department official told reporters in a press briefing on Tuesday. However, Russia claimed it had been forced to act as Ukrainian ships illegally entered its waters to "intentionally" provoke a conflict.

Poroshenko has said he tried to arrange a phone call with Putin to discuss the standoff but faced the Kremlin's refusal.

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