The President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, claims he has proof that Russia is planning a ‘large-scale ground attack against Ukraine’, according to local media.
— Henry Jones (@hthjones) November 26, 2018
The recent confrontation began when Russia prevented three Ukrainian navy vessels from passing beneath a bridge in the Kerch strait, blocking the way with a cargo ship. Two naval vessels and a tug boat were subsequently fired upon and seized.
Lots of talk from Poroshenko that he has reliable evidence of Russia planning a full-scale ground attack on Ukraine.
IF that is true (and it’s a big if), NATO will need to sit down and ask itself: if Russia invades Ukraine, are we prepared to respond with military force?
— Henry Jones (@hthjones) November 26, 2018
Earlier today, Ukraine declared martial law in response to the Russian actions against its naval vessels and the claims of a ‘large scale invasion’ being planned.
In a televised address to the nation, President Poroshenko said the move was necessary to defend Ukraine from a possible Russian invasion, he also promised that a presidential election scheduled for March would go ahead as planned.
An emergency United Nations Security Council was called earlier today. During the emergency meeting, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council that Russia actions were an “outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory,” saying it was “another reckless Russian escalation” and that “in the name of international peace and security, Russia must immediately cease its unlawful conduct and respect the navigational rights and freedoms of all states.”
During the meeting, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the United Nations Rosemary DiCarlo told the council:
“We strongly urge both the Russian Federation and Ukraine to refrain from any ratcheting up of actions or rhetoric and remind both of the need to contain this incident so as to prevent a serious escalation that may have unforeseen consequences.”
There are conflicting reports of an escalation in Donetsk. Some reports in pro-kremlin Russian media are stating that Ukraine has launched a massive artillery barrage however that has not been confirmed.
Downing Street Press Secretary James Slack said “further evidence of Russia’s destabilising behavior in the region and its ongoing violation of Ukrainian territorial integrity. Russia must not be allowed to use force to exert greater pressure on Ukraine.”
Additionally, Ukrainian lawmakers have overwhelmingly backed the imposition of martial law along Ukraine’s coastal regions and those bordering Russia in response to the incident. A total of 276 lawmakers in Kiev backed the measure, which takes effect on 28 November 2018 and will automatically expire in 30 days.
Earlier in the day, the UK Government condemned Russia after it attacked and seized the Ukrainian naval vessels.
“We condemn Russia’s act of aggression. This incident provides further evidence of Russia’s destabilising behaviour in the region,” Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman told reporters.
“The UK position is clear, ships must be allowed free passage to Ukrainian ports in the sea of Azov. We urge all parties to act with restraint. Russia must not be allowed to use force to exert greater pressure on Ukraine.”
This came after recent comments from the UK’s Chief of the General Staff, General Mark Carleton-Smith, claiming that Russia is a greater threat to Britain than Islamic State.
“The Russians seek to exploit vulnerability and weakness wherever they detect it. Russia today indisputably represents a far greater threat to our national security than Islamic extremist threats such as al-Qaeda and Isil.”
General Mark Carleton-Smith has played a leading role in many recent operations at home and abroad, including the campaign to defeat Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, supporting to British Overseas Territories impacted by Hurricane Irma and the military’s support to areas badly affected by the snow earlier this year.
While speaking to The Telegraph, he also mentioned the danger posed by Russian attempts to undermine the UK using unconventional means, saying:
“Russia has embarked on a systematic effort to explore and exploit Western vulnerabilities, particularly in some of the non-traditional areas of cyberspace, undersea warfare,” he said.
“The Russians seek to exploit vulnerability and weakness wherever they detect it,” he added.
For a brief summary of the recent confrontation, have a look here.