Russia seizes three Ukrainian naval ships off Crimea

Russian commander orders his ship to RAM a Ukrainian navy tugboat before firing on three vessels during unprecedented stand-off in the Black Sea – prompting fears of military escalation

  • The Ukrainian navy has accused Russia of firing at and seizing three ships in Kerch Strait off annexed Crimea
  • Ukrainian boats were making their way to the Mariupol in the Sea of Azov from Odessa on the Black Sea
  • The narrow Kerch Strait is only route to the shared territorial waters of Sea of Azov, which Russia claims
  • Russia said it was forced to block off the strait because ships made ‘unauthorised crossing’ in its territory
  • Ukraine’s Interior Minister shared clip of Russians ramming tugboat saying it was evidence of aggression
  • In audio from a clip of the flash point on Sunday, a man can be heard shouting: ‘Squash him, well done’

This is the extraordinary moment a Russian coast guard vessel rammed a Ukrainian navy tugboat under the orders ‘squash him’ during an unprecedented stand-off in the Black Sea that has prompted fears of military escalation.

Crew on the Russian ship were told to ‘hold on tight’ as it ploughed in to the Ukrainian tug in the Kerch Strait, a narrow channel of water separating annexed Crimea from mainland Russia.

The same Russian ship later opened fire on and seized three of Ukraine’s vessels, injuring at least six crew members in what is a key shipping route in the region, Kiev officials said.

The crisis began on Sunday after Russia stopped the three Ukrainian ships from entering the Sea of Azov – a shared territorial area that Moscow has aggressively tried to claim after seizing the peninsula in 2014. Russia’s FSB security service said the ships had illegally entered its territorial waters and ignored warnings to stop.

Yesterday’s confrontation is a dangerous precedent.
Flashpoint: Extraordinary footage captures the moment a Russian coast guard vessel rammed a Ukrainian navy tugboat under the orders 'squash him'

Flashpoint: Extraordinary footage captures the moment a Russian coast guard vessel rammed a Ukrainian navy tugboat under the orders ‘squash him’

Crew members on board the Russian ship were told to 'hold on tight' as it ploughed in to the Ukrainian tug in the Kerch Strait, a narrow channel of water separating annexed Crimea from mainland Russia

Crew members on board the Russian ship were told to ‘hold on tight’ as it ploughed in to the Ukrainian tug in the Kerch Strait, a narrow channel of water separating annexed Crimea from mainland Russia

The conflict took place in the Kerch Strait (pictured) - where Russia said Ukrainian ships made 'unauthorised crossings'. Russia blocked the passage using a huge cargo ship (pictured) under the Kerch Bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula

The conflict took place in the Kerch Strait (pictured) – where Russia said Ukrainian ships made ‘unauthorised crossings’. Russia blocked the passage using a huge cargo ship (pictured) under the Kerch Bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula

A small armoured Ukrainian artillery ship and a tug boat are seen anchored in the Black Sea port of Kerch, Ukraine, after being seized by Russia

A small armoured Ukrainian artillery ship and a tug boat are seen anchored in the Black Sea port of Kerch, Ukraine, after being seized by Russia

Russia says three Ukrainian Navy vessels (pictured) illegally crossed the Russian border and intruded into Russia's territorial waters

Russia says three Ukrainian Navy vessels (pictured) illegally crossed the Russian border and intruded into Russia’s territorial waters

One Ukrainian navy tugboat was travelling with two  artillery boats from Odessa on the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov 

One Ukrainian navy tugboat was travelling with two artillery boats from Odessa on the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov

Russian fighter jets were seen flying low over the Kerch Bridge as tensions increased on Sunday. Yesterday's confrontation is a dangerous development in a conflict pitting Ukraine against Russian-backed rebels the country's east

Russian fighter jets were seen flying low over the Kerch Bridge as tensions increased on Sunday. Yesterday’s confrontation is a dangerous development in a conflict pitting Ukraine against Russian-backed rebels the country’s east