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EXPERTS AVAILABLE: Kyiv Responds To Rising Tensions With Moscow In Black Sea

UKRAINE -- Ukrainian lawmakers listen to parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy, center, during a parliament session in Kyiv, November 26, 2018
UKRAINE -- Ukrainian lawmakers listen to parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy, center, during a parliament session in Kyiv, November 26, 2018

Ukraine’s parliament is in session now, considering Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s approval of a decision by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to introduce martial law in the country effective today (November 26, 2018).

The measure is a dramatic response to a November 25 attack by Russian forces on a group of Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea off the coast of the Russian-controlled Crimean Peninsula. It could give the government the power to restrict public demonstrations, regulate the media, and suspend elections.

Moscow’s seizure of Ukrainian ships and crew is the latest incident in a series of aggressive acts in the Black and Azov seas. The FSB has detained more than 148 Ukrainian and foreign merchant ships -- many more than once -- delivering economic losses to Ukraine and raising political tensions. Ukraine has no naval presence in the Azov; the country lost as much as 80 percent of its naval fleet when Russia annexed Crimea and took Ukraine's ships with it.

Russia’s $3.7 billion Crimean Bridge project linking the occupied Ukrainian peninsula with southern Russia across the Kerch Strait is emblematic of its assertion of influence in the region. The project has brought stern condemnation from Western governments; the European Union in late July added six more Russian companies associated with it to its sanctions list.

Gregory Zhygalov, Brussels-based correspondent for RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, is available for comment on the developing events in the Black Sea and reactions from the EU and NATO. RFE/RL’s Chris Miller, who has reported extensively on mounting tensions between Moscow and Kyiv in the Azov Sea, is in Kyiv, and RFE/RL Ukrainian Service Director Maryana Drach is in Prague.

RFE/RL journalists are available for comment:

Zhygalov is a correspondent for RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service and Current Time TV, based in Brussels. He previously worked for the Ukrainian Internet television station Hromadske.TV as a current events talk show presenter.

Miller is an American journalist and foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine. Before joining RFE/RL, he served as Mashable’s senior international correspondent. He has also published with The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent, and GlobalPost.

Along with overseeing the work of RFE/RL’s Ukraine Service, Drach hosts the Service’s daily radio program “Liberty Today,” which explores key developments in Ukraine and on the international scene. A native of Kyiv, Drach joined the service in 1996, specializing in international affairs.


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