Ukraine bars entry of Russian males 16 to 60 amid naval conflict

Minnie Murray
December 1, 2018

Russian border guards opened fire on and captured three Ukrainian vessels and their 24-member crew.

As Maxim Nosenko strides the decks of one of Ukraine's moored naval gunships, frozen in a biting chill that rips through the port of Mariupol, he's left to contemplate Kiev's unlikely response to the apparent bid by Moscow to annex the sea behind him: inactivity. "Russian men aged 16 to 60 have been barred from entering the country", he said at a meeting dedicated to ensuring the country's defense capability in the situation of martial law, which also involved Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko. "We don't have any other enemies", says Sergiy Nayev, Ukraine's commander of military operations in the pro-Russian separatist east of the country.

The Ukrainian leader tweeted Thursday that "there will be restrictions regarding Russian citizens, which I believe are quite justified".

"While desperately trying to stay in power, he is pulling the country into another scheme, followed by disastrous consequences for Ukraine, as well as for European security", said the spokesperson.

In Russia, officials and lawmakers reacted with dismay but said that they wouldn't retaliate to avoid hurting ordinary Ukrainians.

US President Donald Trump scrapped a planned meeting at the G20 summit with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin over Moscow´s detention of the sailors. Russian Federation has attempted to exert greater control over the area since annexing Crimea - including opening a bridge linking Russian Federation to the Ukrainian peninsula earlier this year.

The latest confrontation began last weekend as the three small vessels tried to pass through the narrow Kerch Strait separating Russia's mainland from Crimea.

The state-run TASS news agency also reported Friday the captured sailors will remain in jail for two months during an investigation.

Her comments follow the seizure of Ukrainian ships by Russian Federation on Sunday which has prompted Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to argue for further pressure being put on Moscow. The Russians then seized the ships and have detained their 24 crew members. She said she met with some of them and they appeared to be in good shape.

There were signs tensions wouldn't be letting up any time soon.

The fact that no North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member is presently planning to send any ships to the Azov Sea-not even a short friendly visit-will hardly calm the Russian nightmare assessment of the West suddenly achieving naval superiority there. It is also not Moscow heating up the war in Donbas before launching an assault on all of eastern Ukraine or conquering a land bridge from Donbas to Crimea.

The Ukrainian church, which has been part of the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries, moved close to forming an independent church - fueled by the conflict with Russia Ukraine's Orthodox communities earlier this year. Moscow fears that splitting the Orthodox community in Ukraine could trigger sectarian violence.

Ukraine's domestic security agency SBU said Friday it had searched the home of Father Pavlo, who leads the ancient Pechersk Monastery in Kyiv, for supposedly "inciting hatred", accusations he vehemently denied.

The Russian Orthodox church is allied with Patriarch Kirill, an ally of Putin.

"I'm feeling the pressure from all sides".

"I recognise that the actions of the ships with military hardware of Ukraine's navy had a provocative character", said one Ukranian sailor, Vladimir Lisov. Ukrainian authorities have sought to portray Russian Orthodox clerics in Ukraine as supporting separatists.

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