Russia reopened the Kerch Strait near Crimea to shipping in the early hours of Monday morning after their confrontation with Ukraine yesterday.

Russia reopened the Kerch Strait near Crimea to shipping in the early hours of Monday morning after their confrontation with Ukraine yesterday.

 Russia’s FSB security service said early on Monday its border patrol boats had seized two small Ukrainian armored artillery vessels and a tug boat after opening fire on them and wounding several sailors.

It is said to be the most serious clash between Russia and Ukraine  in years.

 It had previously blocked the Kerch Strait near Russia-annexed Crimea to stop the ships from passing from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov, saying the small flotilla had not notified it of its plans in advance and ignored warnings to stop while maneuvering dangerously.

 With relations still raw after Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its backing for a pro-Moscow insurgency in eastern Ukraine, the incident risks pushing the two countries toward a wider conflict and is likely to renew Western calls for more sanctions on Moscow.

 The Russian rouble opened 0.4 percent weaker against the dollar in Moscow, its lowest since mid-November.

 Ukraine which has  denied its ships had done anything wrong, accused Russia of military aggression and asked for the international community to mobilize to punish Russia.

 The U.N. Security Council will meet on the latest developments at the request of Russia and Ukraine later on Monday, diplomats said.

 The European Union said in a statement it expected Russia to restore freedom of passage via the Kerch Strait and urged both sides to act with the utmost restraint to de-escalate the situation.

 A NATO spokeswoman was reported to have issued a similar appeal to both sides.

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