North Atlantic Treaty Organisation iterates call on Russian Federation to free Ukrainian sailors

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All the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation states are ready to support Ukraine if Russian continues performing aggressive actions against it, as Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of the organization, said before the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member states, 112 Ukraine reported.

Noting that Ukraine isn't a member of the alliance, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the allies already "provide strong political support and strong practical support".

For Muzhenko this is evidence of a concerted build-up of Russian forces in the run-up to November 25, when Russia fired on and captured three Ukrainian vessels at the Kerch Strait, an action Kiev's leadership fears may be a precursor to a full-scale invasion. They stated that there was "no justification for Russia's use of military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel" and called the sailors' release.

With initial talk of tighter sanctions now fading and Russian Federation so far paying little cost for firing on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait last month, President Petro Poroshenko reiterated calls for action from the West.

Tension over Crimea escalated dramatically last month when Russian coast guard vessels fired upon and seized three Ukrainian naval boats and their 24 crew members in the Kerch Strait linking the Sea of Azov to the Black Sea.

"Yes, Berdyansk and Mariupol ports are partially unlocked".

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Russia, however, insisted it never blocked vessels from sailing through the strait and that any possible disruptions were due to bad weather. "They should release the crew to return the ship, it is not the question which we release out of our zone of attention", the official added. Three NATO allies on the Black Sea - Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey - are also taking individual measures.

Ministers will also tackle the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which Washington has announced it will abandon in response to Russian violations, with Stoltenberg promising a "measured, proportionate" response. The Strait is located between the of Russia 2014 annexed the Ukrainian Peninsula of Crimea and the Russian mainland, and is controlled by the Russian Navy.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian media said violence had continued in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists seized areas of two border regions in 2014.

The next day, according to NPR, Ukraine's parliament congregated for an emergency session to vote on imposing martial law in 10 of its provinces to combat Russia's growing aggression and strengthen its defense.

The Kremlin has called the naval incident a provocation meant to shore up Poroshenko's sagging popularity.

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