Ukraine urges German presence in Black Sea

A Ukrainian border guard stands ready at the border from Russia to Ukrainian side of the Ukraine- Russia border in Milove town eastern Ukraine Sunday Dec. 2 2018. On a map Chertkovo and Milove are one village crossed by Friendship of Peoples Street

Ukraine's deputy defense minister, Anatoliy Petrenko, said the country is talking to its Western partners to respond to Russia's "escalatory actions". Three NATO allies on the Black Sea - Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey - are also taking individual measures.

Later Tuesday, the Ukrainian Agriculture Ministry said grain was again being loaded onto ships in the two ports.

The November 25 incident in the contested Kerch Strait - which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov - was the first open military confrontation between Kiev and Moscow since Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Kiev says its ships were in worldwide waters while Russian Federation claims the boats were violating its borders.

On Nov. 26, the Ukrainian parliament passed a bill proposed by the country's President Petro Poroshenko declaring martial law in regions mainly bordering Russian Federation for 30 days. But Poroshenko has pledged that martial law wouldn't interfere with the vote.

Jack Watling, a research fellow at the London-based Royal United Services Institute think tank, said Poroshenko's fears were well-founded.

"After Poroshenko said that Russian Federation is allegedly planning to seize Mariupol and Berdyansk, I can say, putting his own pronouncements in other words, that it is Russian Federation that protects Europe from barbarism, tyranny, terrorism, aggression and militarism looming large over our continent", she wrote on her Facebook account.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu has defended the military build-up in the region by saying that it is meant to neutralise the "emerging threat for national security".

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Even though Ukraine wishes for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to involve itself in the issue, Merkel does not believe that military involvement will do anything beyond increasing tensions. "Trump has his own position on the incident, which is different from that of Russian Federation; in any case, I informed him", Putin said. "The most consistent, however, has been Estonia", it added.

The incident has driven tensions between Russian Federation and Ukraine to their highest point since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014. Similarly, "issues related to the waters of the Kerch Strait shall be settled by agreement between the sides".

"Further on, colleagues in the Baltic states came up with new, still tougher statements, which give hope that we have real friends in Europe", the website said. "They are stopped and inspected by Russian Federation as before, but the traffic has been partially restored". Independent observers have pointed out that the bridge's span is lower than worldwide standards, putting a permanent cap on the size of ship able to enter the Azov.

In a statement posted on the ministry website, Omelyan said Russian Federation had lifted some restrictions on movement to and from the Azov Sea ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol.

The United States and its North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have strongly urged Russian Federation to free the Ukrainian vessels and the crews.

Just over a week ago, Russian Federation blocked three Ukranian naval ships from passing from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, which both countries technically share under a 2003 treaty. The other 21 remained in custody in Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told his American colleague Donald Trump about the incident with the Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait.

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