The Ukrainian military said Sunday that Russian boats opened fire on and seized three of its ships near Crimea, escalating a standoff over the Kerch Strait, a key waterway that holds strategic importance for both countries.
This is the first time the two militaries have come into open conflict in recent years, although Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country.
The Ukrainian navy said its boats were hit and disabled as they tried to leave the area. It said 23 Ukrainians were on board and six crew members had been injured.
Russia’s FSB security service confirmed that one of its patrol boats had used force to seize the vessels but said only three sailors had been hurt.
Russia has also accused Ukraine of violating legal norms by sending the vessels into its territorial waters in a “pre-planned provocation”.