Ukraine declares martial law over escalating tension with Russia

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Ukraine’s parliament has voted to support President Petro Poroshenko’s proposed 30-day martial law in areas bordering Russia, Transnistria, Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

The act, which allows officials to regulate the media and restrict public rallies, was enacted on Nov. 28. It was passed by a vote of 276 government members on Monday, Nov. 26, with only 30 voting against the implementation of the curfews and partial mobilisation of the nation’s air defence.

Tensions have recently increased after Ukraine claims Russia captured two armored gunboats and a tugboat as they attempted to enter the Sea of Azov from the Black Sea at the Kerch Strait. Russia, in turn, has claimed the 23 members of the Ukrainian armed forces had illegally entered their waters on Nov. 25.

Russia has come under criticism for its role, with ambassadors from Britain, France and the United States using a Security Council session to accuse Russia of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty. NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also “expressed full support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty” in a phone call with President Poroshenko.

The clash is the first time that Ukraine and Russia have come into open conflict since 2014, though Ukraine remains in conflict with Russian backed separatists in the east of the country.

An estimated 10,000 people have died in confrontations between Ukraine and Russian supported forces since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

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