The Ukrainian president calls for emergency session of his war cabinet after accusing Russia of capturing three of its ships.
Ukraine says Russia has opened fire on its ships in the Black Sea and captured three vessels.
Two sailors have been wounded after two small armoured artillery boats were hit in the strikes, the Ukrainian navy said.
A statement from Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK said Russian special forces had captured three ships in an “act of aggression”.
UPDATE: Russian claim Ukraine violated its territorial waters
Cargo ship blocks Kerch Strait as Ukrainian Navy breaches Russian border
Tensions are running high around the Kerch Strait, separating Crimea from mainland Russia after Ukrainian vessels violated the Russian border. The passage was blocked by a cargo ship and fighter jets were scrambled.
RAW: Coast Guard traces Ukrainian vessels after breach of Russian waters
Meanwhile, back in the Black Sea, Bear and Nightingale have rocky engagement.
More about Crimean gunboat diplomacy with our tape at eleven.
WHY RUSSIA’S KERCH STRAIT CLASHES WITH UKRAINE MATTER
In a move to assert its authority, Russia closed the Strait of Kerch which links the Azov sea with the rest of the Black Sea and a naval confrontation with Ukraine ensued. Three Ukrainian naval vessels were involved in clashes with Russia in an unprecedented incident that will raise tensions between Moscow and Kiev.
This is unprecedented and important. It must be seen in light of Russia’s growing attempt to assert itself globally and is part of Moscow’s strategy to show that it is not afraid to use military force. Over the last decade Russia has increasingly illustrated this concept. In Georgia in 2008, in Ukraine in 2014 and then in Syria in 2015. But it’s not just military action that Russia carries out. It is also economic action as I covered in the TurkStream deal with Turkey.
And Russia is also re-asserting itself in the Balkans, and seeking a role in the continuing Kosovo dispute. Russia has also sent an advanced version of its S-300 to bolster Syria and is seeking to sell its S-400 to Turkey and other countries. Each step of the way Moscow wants to show a win and it wants to show that its military might is back. Even if this isn’t always the actual case, the perception must be that Moscow won.
From Sept 2017
WAR IN UKRAINE: THE HIDDEN CONFLICT
Despite a shaky cease-fire, war in the Donbas region of Ukraine stretches into its third year with no end in sight
“I’m not a naval expert, but Ukraine tried to force the Kerch straits using two of its modern “artillery” patrol boats that are out matched by what the Russians have, at sea it’s not a question. And now Ukraine appears to have lost two of these boats, plus the tug boat?
“What was Ukraine thinking? Did it not weigh what might happen? What was it’s plan and orders to the officers if the Russians engaged, did they contemplate that this was a likelihood? Did they walk into a Moscow trap basically? It’s the Black Fleet, Russia’s expertise there.”
Even if this isn’t always the actual case, the perception must be that Moscow won.
But they haven’t won, they’re not winning.
In a major hostile move, they sent their S-300 air defense system to Syria. (After Syrians downed a Russian transport by mistake, thinking it was Israeli. 15 Russians died, Shoigu blamed Israel for confusing the Syrians.)
Yet in the last week the USA has been flying F-22 stealth and F/A 18F Super Hornets over Syria 24/7. So the vaunted S-300 must not be working.
The overflights are probably why Gen. Hajizadeh was barking Thursday:
“Amirali Hajizadeh, the head of the air division for the hard-line Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, said improvements to Iran’s missile arsenal had put US bases in Qatar, the UAE and Afghanistan within reach, as well as US aircraft carriers stationed in the Persian Gulf, according to Iran’s Tasnim news agency.”
I remember those, I also remember the South/Central American President telling VP Pence that Venezuela was paying for the Caravans. It is looking like Iran, Russia and China are trying to get the US involved in a major dispute at the Southern Border to give them a freer hand in the various regions where they are having or want to have an ongoing military conflict.
The next couple of years are going to get real scary.