Russia seized three Ukrainian naval ships off the coast of Russia-annexed Crimea on Sunday after opening fire on them and wounding several sailors, a move that risks igniting a dangerous new crisis between the two countries.
Russia’s FSB security service said early on Monday its border patrol boats had seized the Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea and used weapons to force them to stop, Russian news agencies reported.
The FSB said it had been forced to act because the ships – two small Ukrainian armored artillery vessels and a tug boat – had illegally entered its territorial waters, attempted illegal actions, and ignored warnings to stop while maneuvering dangerously.
“Weapons were used with the aim of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships,” the FSB said in a statement circulated to Russian state media.
“As a result, all three Ukrainian naval vessels were seized in the Russian Federation’s territorial waters in the Black Sea.”
The FSB said three Ukrainian sailors were wounded in the incident and were getting medical care. Their lives were not in danger, it said.
With relations still raw after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its backing for a pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine, the incident risks pushing the two countries toward a wider conflict.