KIEV, Ukraine – In early December, Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko introduced martial law in some Ukrainian regions located on the Russian border after the incident in the Kerch Strait, in which three Ukrainian ships illegally crossed Russia’s maritime border.
“This is my main decision, based on the analysis of the current state security situation and because of the fact that the situation around Ukraine has not changed much,” announced the president in a meeting of the National Security Council.
The head of state also said that martial law did not affect the holding of the presidential election in Ukraine, which should be held on March 31, 2019.
The statements of the Ukrainian president followed those of the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. According to Putin, the incident in the Kerch Strait was a provocation to introduce martial law and suspend the right to vote of regions with Russian populations before the presidential election in Ukraine, since the popularity of Poroshenko is extremely low.
On November 25, warships Berdyansk and Nikopol of Ukraine and tugboat Yany Kapu illegally crossed the Russian sea border as they sailed towards the Kerch Strait towards the Sea of Azov. Ukrainian ships were seized by Russia after failing to respond to the patrol. After the incident, Poroshenko signed a decree declaring martial law in various Ukrainian regions located on the Russian border.
The head of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Aleksandr Turchinov, announced that Kiev plans a new passage of Ukrainian ships through the Kerch Strait. After that, 40 US senators presented a project, calling for a multinational operation in the Black Sea to guarantee freedom of navigation.
According to Formanchuk, the new provocation of Ukraine “will be elaborated in several versions,” and Kiev will try to “provoke a harsh reaction from Russia.”
“They wanted to repeat [the passage of ships], and we cannot afford to stand aside and not respond. I think the Ukrainian side instigated by the United States will try to do this before the New Year,” he said.