Ukraine Navy Says Russia Fired at Its Ships

The Ukrainian Navy accused Russia Sunday of opening fire on some of its ships in the Black Sea, amid a day of rising tension between the two countries.

In a Facebook post, the Ukrainian Navy said that one person had been wounded in the gunfire.

Earlier Sunday, the Ukrainian Navy accused a Russian Coast Guard vessel of ramming a Ukrainian tugboat off Crimea.

The alleged incident took place as two Ukrainian warships and the tugboat were sailing to the Sea of Azov – a body of water in which Russia has been steadily asserting itself after annexing Ukraine’s Crimea in 2014. A 2003 treaty designates the Sea of Azov and the pathway into it – the Kerch Straight – as shared territorial waters.

A screen shows a Russian border guard vessel Don trying to stop a Ukrainian Navy tug boat as three Ukrainian ships make a journey from the Black Sea port of Odessa via the Kerch Strait to Mariupol on the Sea of Azov, in the Black Sea, Nov. 25, 2018.

The narrow passage between Crimea and the Russian mainland has been an area of heightened tension between the countries.

The Ukrainian Navy also said that their ships were later blocked by a Russian tanker in the Kerch Strait, and that Russia sent two military helicopters to the region to watch the ships.

Russian news services reported Sunday that Russia’s Federal Security Service said the Ukrainian ships had violated Russian territorial waters. A statement released by the Security Service made no mention of a tugboat, according to Russian news.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration told Russia to stop what it said was harassment of international shipping vessels in the Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait aimed at trying to weaken Ukraine’s economy.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine have deteriorated since Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and fomented a pro-Russia separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

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