Russia 'fires on and seizes Ukraine ships'

Russian jet fighters fly over a bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula with a cargo ship blocking access and which led to a flare-up with three Ukraine ships. Reuters

Russia blocks Kerch Strait amid confrontation with Ukraine

"[The Russians] shoot to kill", the press service of Ukraine's Navy said on Facebook at 20:28 local time on November 25.

Russia has stopped three Ukrainian navy vessels from entering the Sea of Azov via the Kerch Strait by placing a huge cargo ship beneath a Russian-controlled bridge, Russia's state-controlled Rossiya 24 TV channel reported on Sunday.

Russia's ships "carried out openly aggressive actions against Ukrainian naval ships", the statement said, adding that the Ukrainian ships were continuing on their way "despite Russia's counteraction".

A Rossiya 24 correspondent reporting from the area of the Kerch Strait bridge near Crimea said Russia's tactic had completely blocked the bridge, which connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, and that Russian military helicopters were circling overhead.

The strait is an important trade route for Ukraine as it gives ships access to the city of Mariupol, a key port located in the Sea of Azov.

Ukrainian Navy reported that the ships of the Russian Federation performed blatantly aggressive acts against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy, which have been carrying out a scheduled transition from Odesa port to Mariupol port in the Sea of Azov.

It also said that there was information that Russian special forces had been transferred on board the "Don" ship of the Border Service of Russia's FSB Federal Security Service in order to make a boarding attempt to seize the Ukrainian vessels.

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The Ukrainian navy said in a statement posted on Facebook on Sunday evening that one of its small artillery boats, the Berdyansk, was damaged and one crew member was injured.

"The ships of the Ukrainian Navy continue to perform tasks in compliance with all norms of worldwide law", the Ukrainian Navy said in a statement said.

Ukrainian and Russian naval vessels are involved in a standoff near the Kerch Strait, a narrow sea passage near the Crimean peninsula that separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

It said a Russian coast guard ship damaged the tugboat's engine, hull, side railing and a lifeboat.

"Their goal is clear", an FSB statement said, "to create a conflict situation in the region".

The incident came amid a confrontation at sea between Ukrainian and Russian vessels.

The FSB statement did not mention the ramming of the Ukrainian tugboat.

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