Ukraine Navy Says Its Artillery Ship Was Hit by Russian Fire

The Ukrainian navy said a Russian coast guard vessel rammed one of its tugboats near Crimea, then one day later fired upon a Ukrainian armored ship from Russian Ka-52 attack helicopters. Ukraine blames the Russian aggression on Moscow's increased blockades in an area that's supposed to be shared waters.

The first incident took place in the Black Sea on Sunday when two Ukrainian artillery boats and a tugboat were traveling from Odessa to Mariupol through the Kerch Strait — a narrow passage between Crimea and the Russian mainland that's been designated as "shared territorial waters." These incidents took place as tensions rise between Kiev and Moscow over use of these passages.

The Ukrainian Navy issued this statement on Facebook Sunday morning.

"However, contrary to the UN 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 actions against the ships of the Ukrainian Navy," the Ukraine said.

The Ukraine said Russia had been informed of the planned transit ahead of time.

"Russian coast guard vessels (...) carried out openly aggressive actions against Ukrainian navy ships" during the transit, the Ukrainian navy statement said. It said a Russian coast guard ship damaged the tugboat's engine, hull, side railing and a lifeboat.

In addition to #RussianCoastGuard patrol/gunboats, Russia is enforcing its illegal blockade of the #Kerch strait with Ka-52 attack helicopters loaded with what looks like extra fuel, rockets and ATGMs.#Ukraine #Russia #KerchBlockade

— Petri Mäkelä (@pmakela1) November 25, 2018

The ramming happened when the Russian border ship, "Don," intentionally rammed the Ukrainian tugboat, damaging the tugboat's engine and the vessel's shell plating and guard railing.

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) told Russian news agencies Sunday the Ukrainian ships violated Russian territorial waters, which were temporarily closed. FSB didn't mention ramming any vessels or tugboats.

"Their goal is clear," an FSB statement said, "to create a conflict situation in the region."

Russia has asserted rigid control over the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov passage since 2015, although a treaty in 2003 designated it as "shared territorial" waters.

The Ukrainian navy stated, "the occupiers' dispatch service refuses to ensure the right to freedom of navigation, guaranteed by international agreements."

Citing security concerns, Russia has closed the passage to civilian traffic.

The Ukraine said one Navy crew member was injured on the armored artillery ship that was hit by Russian fire.