Ukraine bans Russian men from entering the country

Howard TerryDec 05, 2018

President Vladimir Putin may be seeking to maximise his gains in the Black Sea region at a time when Washington is preoccupied with China and Iran, and when Europe is fragmenting politically and economically. He didn't address Ukraine's accusations of a Russian military buildup.

Kiev last week imposed martial law for 30 days in 10 regions that border Russian Federation, the Black Sea and the Azov Sea.

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called on Germany and Western allies to boost their naval presence in the Black Sea to deter Russian Federation from further aggression, saying Moscow was trying to blockade Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov.

Shipping traffic has resumed to and from Ukraine's ports on the Sea of Azov following a standoff with Russian Federation, a Ukrainian minister said Tuesday.

"Free shipping into the Sea of Azov to the Ukrainian coast and harbors must be ensured" by Russian Federation, she said.

The Russian Orthodox Church said Sunday that more than 20 Orthodox priests had been summoned for questioning by Ukraine's SBU security service. Since May, Russia has been stopping and delaying shipping in the region, in the process imposing significant costs on vessels seeking to transact in Ukrainian ports. Russian Federation wants to use its seizure and annexation of the Crimean peninsula to starve Ukraine of its full abilities to import and export goods.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation nations, individually and through the European Union, have also imposed economic and other sanctions on Russian Federation since it annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, but there is little appetite among the allies to broaden those measures.

Mathieu Boulegue, a research fellow with Russian Federation and Eurasia program at London's Chatham House think tank, said Poroshenko's move appeared to be "an attention-seeking reaction" that is likely to antagonize Moscow even further and play badly with the worldwide community. "Because when you have provocations, such hostilities like what just happened in the Black Sea...you can always use war to justify your economic failures".

For the duration of martial law, Ukrainian authorities barred entry to all Russian men aged 16 to 60 in a move the Ukrainian leader said was needed to prevent Russia from further destabilizing the country. Additionally, he enforced restrictions on Russians living in Ukraine in a myriad of aspects, including bank withdrawals and global travel, as well as requesting that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation send ships to the area of conflict.

Poroshenko said on Monday that some reservists will be summoned for training as part of martial law.

But Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014, charged that the Ukrainian boats entered its territorial waters without permission. An unsteady cease-fire has been in place there since 2015.

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