President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko says that the introduction of martial law does not mean a declaration of war.
“Martial law does not mean declaration of war. Ukraine has no plans to go to war with anyone,” Poroshenko said at the meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine in Kyiv overnight Monday, according to an UNIAN correspondent.
Poroshenko stressed that "martial law is introduced exclusively for the purposes of defense, protection of the Ukrainian land, our territorial integrity, our country's sovereignty and independence."
According to the head of state, martial law is needed to strengthen defenses against the background of growing aggressiveness and an act of outright aggression on the part of the Russian Federation in accordance with international law.
The Ukrainian leader has noted that the introduction of martial law does not mean that Ukraine gives up on political and diplomatic means for the liberation of the temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories. "We intend to continue to comply with all international obligations, including the Minsk Agreement," Poroshenko added.
As UNIAN reported earlier, Russian coast guard ships opened fire on a group of vessels of the Ukrainian Navy – two small-sized 'Berdiansk' and 'Nikopol' armored artillery boats and the 'Yany Kapu' tugboat – as they were leaving the Kerch Strait on Sunday evening. Prior to that, on Sunday morning, the 'Yany Kapu' (Yani Qapi) tugboat of Ukraine's Navy was rammed by a Russian coast guard ship while the Ukrainian vessels were carrying out a planned transfer from the port of Odesa to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.
The Ukrainian side said notification about the transfer plans had been done in advance in accordance with international rules to ensure safe navigation.
Russia, in turn, claims that the Ukrainian vessels "illegally" entered the temporarily closed water area of the territorial sea of the Russian Federation. The FSB alleges that the Ukrainian side did not file an application for passage and its boats were not included in the timetable for navigation through the Kerch Strait.
The Ukrainian Navy's command insists that under Articles 17 and 38 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and Article 2 of the Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on cooperation in the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, Ukrainian warships enjoy freedom of navigation, and therefore can pass through the Kerch Strait at any time, subject only to navigation safety regulations.
Later, it became known that a Russian special ops unit had seized all the three Ukrainian boats when they were leaving the Kerch Strait. Six members of Ukraine's Navy were reportedly wounded, two of them were in serious condition.
Ukraine's presidential envoy to the Autonomous Republic of Crimea Borys Babin wrote on Facebook that at there were least two dozen prisoners of war as a result of a recent act of Russian aggression.