Russians warn: Civil conflict possible in whole of Ukraine

Kiev has imposed a blanket ban on all the Russian males aged between 16 and 60, effectively allowing only women and children to visit the country.

Russian coast guard ships on Sunday fired on and seized the Ukrainian vessels as they headed toward a contested strait close to Crimea, taking prisoner 24 Ukrainian sailors and triggering an global crisis. REUTERS/Pavel Rebrov A crew member (L, back) of one of Ukrainian naval ships, which were recently seized by Russia's FSB security service, is escorted after a court hearing in Simferopol, Crimea November 28, 2018.

Ukrainian border guards say all non-Ukrainians will be barred from crossing into the Russia-occupied Crimean peninsula by land after martial law went into effect.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation vessels passing into the shallow Sea of Azov has been a redline of sorts for Moscow, and doing so would be an incredibly bold and risky escalation.

NATO, of which Ukraine is a partner but not a member state, has previously called on Russian Federation to release the ships and their crew and said it "stands with Ukraine".

The Kremlin has also backed an ongoing separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Russia's 2014 seizure of Crimea was rightly seen as a serious violation of worldwide norms, but few at the time recognized it as creating new tinder for war-other than maybe out of a long-term smoldering Ukrainian revanchism. Trump cited Russia's failure to return Ukrainian ships and sailors it seized on Sunday.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Poroshenko's request is "clearly aimed at provoking further tensions" and driven by the Ukrainian leader's 'electoral and domestic policy motives'.

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President Trump has called off a meeting with Vladimir Putin to signal the United States' disapproval of Russian behaviour in the naval clash.

During Sunday's confrontation, Russian vessels rammed a Ukrainian tugboat and opened fire on two other ships before seizing the boats and taking their crew members into custody.

Commander of the Ukrainian Navy Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko later said Kiev intends to appeal to the global community with a request to close the Bosporus Strait for Russian ships.

More than 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict in the east.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she's not backing off plans for a joint pipeline with Russia, but is pledging to ensure Ukraine remains a transit country for Russian natural gas. A lawyer representing the sailors in Crimea, Jemil Temishev, said on Thursday that he believed the sailors were being transferred to Moscow's Lefortovo jail, one of Russia's most notorious prisons, used for holding suspected spies and political prisoners.

Asked about the Turkish offer, Peskov responded that "Moscow is grateful to all those willing to help de-escalate the tensions provoked by the Ukrainian side, but doesn't see any need for mediation efforts". But these are two countries that have been symbiotic for decades, and it'll hurt Ukrainians as much as Russians. "As for the citizens of Ukraine, there are no restrictions", Tsigikal said. This outward show of hostility has led to the ongoing undeclared war in the Donetsk region, in Eastern Ukraine. The UN Security Council is now planning to hold a special meeting, requested by Russian Federation and Ukraine, as fears of a new bloody chapter in the region grow.

  • Sonia Alvarado