NATO Expresses Support for Ukraine’s Territorial Integrity

Photo from Ukrinform-UATV

NATO expressed their full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty at the NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting yesterday, Nov. 26, according to the Alliance’s press release.

NATO members and Ukraine discussed the situation in the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait. Ukraine provided the organization with detailed information about Russia’s seizure of three Ukrainian ships.

NATO called on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports and allow freedom of navigation to Ukraine in the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait. It insisted that Russia must end its support to militant groups and withdraw all its forces from Ukrainian territories.

“There is no justification for the use of military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel. So we call on Russia to release immediately the Ukrainian sailors and ships it seized yesterday,” said NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg.  “This incident is a reminder that there is a war going on in Ukraine.”

On Nov. 26, President Petro Poroshenko spoke with Stoltenberg about Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in the Azov and Black Seas and the actions of Ukraine in response.

Russian provocations began on Nov. 25. It started with a Russian coastal guard ship ramming into a Ukrainian tugboat that was transporting two artillery boats from Odesa to Mariupol. Russia blocked access to the Azov Sea altogether and sent two Ka-52 attack helicopters to tail the Ukrainian ships. Finally, it fired on the vessels.

Russian Special Forces then seized the three Ukrainian vessels in the Black Sea. Several sailors were wounded.

Russia’s FSB security service said it had opened a criminal case into what it called the ships’ illegal entry into Russian territorial waters.

The National Security and Defense Council held an emergency meeting at midnight on Oct. 26 to discuss the imposition of martial law.

Poroshenko then signed a decree introducing martial law in the country. The Verkhovna Rada committee approved the decree yesterday afternoon. The Rada then voted to pass martial law in 10 regions of the country for 30 days.

Arsen Avakov, Ukrainian minister of internal affairs, posted a video that shows the Russian ship trailing the Ukrainian tugboat and ramming into it intentionally.