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Ukraine navy: Russia 'fired on and seized' three vessels

By
Daniel Uria

Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Ukraine's navy said Sunday that Russia rammed a Ukranian tugboat, and also fired on and seized three of its vessels in the Sea of Azov.

The navy said two gunboats and a tug were captured by Russian special forces after a chase and two Ukrainian crew members were injured in the process, the BBC reported.

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Russia said the Ukrainian vessels were in its waters and blocked access to the Sea of Azov with a tanker.

Earlier, the Ukrainian navy said Russia's "Don'" coast guard ship rammed a Ukrainian tugboat during a transfer of ships from the port of Odesa to the port of Mariupol.

"Contrary to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Treaty between Ukraine and the Russian Federation on Cooperation in the Use of the Sea of Azov and the Kerch Strait, Russian ships -- Sobol-class patrol boats, the 'Don' coast guard ship, Mangust-class patrol boats, and the 'Suzdalets' corvette -- carried out openly aggressive acts against the ships of the Ukrainian navy," the navy said.

The tugboat's engine, shell plating and guard railing were damaged and its lifeboat was lost during the encounter, according to the Ukrainian navy.

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Russia didn't immediately comment on the Ukrainian claims.

The Ukrainian navy said its ships would continue performing their tasks in keeping with international law, while all illegal actions by Russia were recorded by the crews and would be handed over to the respective international agencies.

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