Current Event: Ukraine-Russia Standoff in the Sea of Azov

Picture by Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or ODbL (http://opendatacommons.org/licenses/odbl/1.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

Article By Nick Reem

Ukraine has imposed martial law following the seizure of three naval ships and detention of twenty-four sailors by Russian forces on Sunday. The incident occurred in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, with the disputed Crimea Peninsula to the West, Russian mainland to the East, and Ukraine to the North. Although reports are disputed, it appears that Russian forces opened fire upon the Ukrainian vessels, injuring six soldiers, and video shows Russian ships ramming a Ukrainian tugboat. Relations between the two countries have been strained since Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

American leaders strongly condemned Russian aggression this week. Both UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced Russia’s actions as a “violation of international law” and declared that sanctions against Russia would remain in place. President Trump also offered his thoughts on the incident: “Not good. Not happy about it all.” NATO called for “restraint and de-escalation” and demanded that Russia ensure Ukraine’s free navigation of the Kerch Strait in accordance with international law. This incident marks the most dangerous escalation of tensions between Ukraine and Russia since the Crimean conflict.