Ukraine and Russian Federation in naval standoff near Crimea bridge

Russia has stopped Ukrainian vessels entering the Sea of Asov by placing a huge cargo ship beneath a Crimean bridge

Russia has stopped Ukrainian vessels entering the Sea of Asov by placing a huge cargo ship beneath a Crimean bridge

The Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said Sunday it has irrefutable evidence that Ukrainian Naval Forces prepared and staged a provocation in the Black Sea.

Three vessels, including two small warships and a tug boat, were sailing from Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov when they were confronted by Russian border ships in a "openly aggressive" manner, the Ukranian Navy said in a statement.

But the Ukrainian navy said Russian Federation had been informed in advance about the planned journey.

It said its vessels had every right to be where they were and that the ships had been en route from the Black Sea port of Odessa to Mariupol, a journey that requires them to go through the Kerch Strait.

Russian military ships were also deployed near the bridge.

Two gunboats were captured and a tug was forced to stop, a statement said.

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.

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The worldwide community has largely not recognized Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine.

Russia's border guard service accused Ukraine of not informing it in advance of the journey, something Kiev denied, and said the Ukrainian ships had been maneuvering dangerously and ignoring its instructions with the aim of stirring up tensions.

Kyiv said Moscow had violated the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the contract between Kiev and Moscow on the use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait.

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

Ukraine's foreign ministry said in a statement it wanted a clear response to the incident from the worldwide community. The statement did not mention ramming the Ukrainian tugboat.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Facebook that the incident was characteristic of Ukrainian behavior: provoke, pressure and blame for aggression.

"Such things are not carried out without the head of state's knowledge, consent, and - I think - initiative", Pushkov told Russia's state-run Rossia 24 TV channel.

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