KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Russia on Tuesday began prosecuting the crew of Ukrainian navy vessels captured over the weekend in a confrontation off Crimea, putting some of the seamen on camera, where they confessed to intruding into Russian waters.
Ukraine demanded that Russia stop using “psychological and physical pressure” on the sailors, as tensions between the two neighbors escalated. Ukraine’s top diplomat called the men “prisoners of war,” telling The Associated Press that displaying them on TV was a crime.
Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for Sunday’s clash in the Kerch Strait, which links the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. The incident has drawn strong criticism of Russia by the United States and its allies and fueled fears of a full-blown conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine’s Parliament on Monday adopted a motion by President Petro Poroshenko to impose martial law for 30 days in parts of the country — a measure Kiev avoided even when Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 or sent clandestine troops and weapons to separatists in eastern Ukraine.
“The introduction of
martial law could raise the threat of escalation of tensions in the region of conflict,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
NATO on Tuesday emphasized its “full support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” noting there is no justification for Russia’s use of military force against Ukrainian ships.