close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
AFP
December 1, 2018

Russia’s seizure of Ukraine ships unjustified: G7

World

AFP
December 1, 2018

OTTAWA: G7 nations on Friday called Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships off Moscow-annexed Crimea unjustified and demanded the release of the 24 sailors, saying the standoff had "dangerously raised tensions."

The foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the US, as well as the EU’s high representative called on Russia "to release the detained crew and vessels and refrain from impeding lawful passage through the Kerch Strait."

In a joint statement issued by Canada, which currently holds the rotating G7 presidency, they expressed their "utmost concern" and warned that the incident has "dangerously raised tensions" in the region.

"There is no justification for Russia’s use of military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel," it read. Ukraine put its forces on alert and imposed martial law in its border regions after the sea confrontation last Sunday, which was the first open military confrontation between Kiev and Moscow since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

That year saw the start of an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed separatists that has claimed more than 10,000 lives. According to their lawyer, Russia has transferred the Ukrainian sailors -- sentenced to two months of detention -- from Crimea to Moscow.

The Group of Seven industrialized nations urged "restraint, due respect for international law, and the prevention of any further escalation." At the same time, the group reiterated that it "does not, and will never, recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula" while reaffirming its "unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian general wearing camouflage and a bulletproof vest looks out from his Mi-8 helicopter flying over the Sea of Azov, the flashpoint of rising tensions between Kiev and Moscow.

"Our presumed enemy is Russia. We don’t have any other enemies," says Sergiy Nayev, Ukraine’s commander of military operations in the pro-Russian separatist east of the country. The 48-year-old general is observing from the skies anti-aircraft defence exercises near the village of Urzuf on the coast of this small sea, after the Russians seized three Ukrainian military ships and 24 sailors nearby on Sunday.

Ukraine’s soldiers are practising repelling a Russian attempt to land on the coast. The ex-Soviet republic believes it is now under threat of a "total war" from Moscow. "Did you see? We got it!" shouts Nayev as a surface-to-air missile destroys a rocket representing in the exercise an enemy plane.

The incident at sea last weekend was the first open military confrontation between Kiev and Moscow since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. That year saw the start of an armed conflict in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russian-backed separatists that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Kiev has imposed martial law for a month in its border regions as it claims Russia is reinforcing its military presence at the Ukrainian frontier. Nayev says Russia has moved "more than 150 planes and helicopters and more than 250 tanks" near the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, which are partly controlled by the rebels.

The military exercises at Urzuf on Thursday were planned in advance and take place every two months, but this time in a more tense atmosphere. "Here, some 30 Russian planes could attack," says the general, explaining why he has beefed up the anti-aircraft defences.

As for the separatists, they "don’t have any planes but they have tanks and artillery. All that comes from Russia," Nayev says -- an accusation Moscow denies despite evidence to the contrary. Two Su-25 fighter planes and two Mi-24 helicopters are taking part in the exercise along the Ukrainian coast of the Sea of Azov not far from the key port of Mariupol.

Topstory minus plus

Opinion minus plus

Newspost minus plus

Editorial minus plus

National minus plus

World minus plus

Sports minus plus

Business minus plus

Karachi minus plus

Lahore minus plus

Islamabad minus plus

Peshawar minus plus