Russian Navy Fires on Ukrainian Ships

Gunnar Strom, Contributor

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Earlier this week, November 26, three Ukrainian ships were fired upon and then seized by Russian ships. This event has sparked huge controversy between the two countries, as the Ukrainians view it as an act of aggression from the Russian navy towards them, and the Russians view it as an infringement of Russian territories. The three ships were apparently in Russian waters when they were captured, which is only adding to the controversy of the situation. The conflict itself is nothing new. The two countries have been wary around one another now for 4 years, since 2014. Prior to this, nearly 2,000 people have died in the conflict between the two countries, although not directly. While the conflict between them is not new, this is the first time the two countries have come into open conflict for the first time in several years. Before this, the Ukrainians have been fighting Russian-backed separatists and Russian volunteers.

It started midday on the 26th when several larger Russian warships fired on the much smaller Ukrainian boats with their onboard guns. The Ukrainian ships attempted to flee the incoming Russians but were prevented by a tanker that was blocking their only escape route. The Russian ships then proceeded to chase the Ukrainians in the ocean until they got close enough, where they then rammed and special forces boarded the vessels. Several Ukrainian sailors, between 3 and 6 of them, have been injured by this, and currently, all of the Ukrainian sailors are in custody by the Russian special forces. It has been seen by the president of Ukraine as an act of war by Russia, and the president has asked for 30 days of martial law for the time being.

Russia has said that “the Ukrainian ships were in its waters illegally because Moscow had temporarily closed an area of water for shipping.” (BBC) This claim is supported by the fact that two Ukrainian ships have passed through the Russian controlled waters in the past weeks, and while they were searched, they were allowed passage through. This isn’t the only time Ukrainian ships have been searched, however. In fact, it’s becoming an increasingly regular thing. Almost every ship coming out of a Ukrainian port has been searched by Russia. This started after a Russian fishing vessel was detained by Ukraine due to security reasons. This is now the reason that Russia is using for searching Ukrainian ships. However, Ukraine does not see it this way. They are accusing Russia of trying to destroy their economy by hindering access to their ports and trying to delay their ships. Russia, of course, has denied this accusation. The tensions are still high between the two sides, and as the two sides are in conflict, it is likely that events like this will continue in the future.

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