Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has proposed the introduction of martial law in response to what he describes as Russia’s “growing aggression,” following the breach of Russian territory by three Ukrainian ships.
Poroshenko proposed the introduction of the law during an emergency meeting with ministers and army officials that he chaired in the capital, Kiev, on Sunday.
He claimed the proposal was made in “reaction to the acts of growing aggression as well as to the violation of international laws by the Russian Federation.”
It was not clear what the introduction of martial law would entail, including inside Ukraine.
Poroshenko seemed to emphasize that he did not want war with Russia.
“Martial law doesn’t mean declaration of war. Ukraine doesn’t plan to start war against anyone, we are just reacting in favor of defending our land and territory, as well as the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine,” he said.
“This doesn’t prevent us from using diplomatic and political means to protect Ukrainian territory,” he also said.
Lawmakers are due to vote on declaring martial law later on Monday.
Tensions, already high between Kiev and Moscow since some four year ago, entered a new phase after three Ukrainian warships illegally entered Russia’s territorial waters on Sunday, according to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Border Service in Crimea.
FSB said the three Ukrainian vessels had been impounded by Russian forces and that “weapons were used to force them to stop.”
The incident occurred in the Kerch Strait, a key waterway that connects the Azov Sea with the Black Sea and runs between the Crimean Peninsula and Russia. Crimea declared independence from Ukraine on March 17, 2014 and formally applied to become part of Russia following a referendum a day earlier, in which 96.8 percent of participants voted in favor of independence.