A new wave of tensions between Russia and Ukraine has made headlines this week. On Nov. 25, Russia seized two small Ukrainian armored artillery vessels, a tugboat and some 23 crew members. The incident took place near the Kerch Strait, a narrow artery that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov and runs between the Crimean Peninsula and Russia. Three Ukrainian servicemen were wounded.
Moscow described the incident as a “provocation.” “The fact that it was done under the goodwill and direct order of the [Ukrainian] leadership is undoubtable,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. “When the Ukrainian side was planning this provocation, they must have calculated the additional benefits they wanted to derive from this situation expecting the US and Europe to blindly support the instigators, as usual,” Lavrov added. Russian President Vladimir Putin preferred to maintain silence for some time — his first comments were made Nov. 28, three days after the incident. The Russian leader accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of the provocation. According to Putin, Poroshenko took the step because it could bring him benefits ahead of an election in March.