Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has asked NATO for support after Russian patrol ships took over the command on three Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait, a waterway between Crimea and southern Russia.
The United States and European countries in the UN Security Council condemned Russian provocation and rallied behind Ukraine.
In an interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko said: “Don’t believe Putin’s lies,” reminding the German media how Russia had earlier also claimed innocence, saying it did not have soldiers in Crimea even as they moved to annex it.
“Putin wants the old Russian empire back,” President Poroshenko claims.
“Crimea, Donbass, the whole country. As Russian Tsar, as he sees himself, his empire cannot function without Ukraine. He sees us as his colony.”
Poroshenko asked NATO therefore to "help Ukraine and provide security."
Related coverage: Why Did Russia Attack Ukrainian Ships?
He pointed out that Germany is one of the most loyal allies to Ukraine: "We hope that NATO countries are willing to send navy ships to the Sea of Azov, to help Ukraine and ensure safety."
According to the Ukrainian President, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin plans to take control of the Sea of Azov shortly
"We cannot accept this aggressive policy from Russia. First, it was Crimea, then the east of Ukraine, now he wants the Sea of Azov. Germany must also ask itself the question: 'What will be Putin's next step if we do not stop him?' "
The Ukrainian President announced a state of emergency in the country following the conflict.
NATO had previously opted to choose Ukraine’s side, although the country is not an official Member State.
NATO boss Mr Jens Stoltenberg called on Russia to release the Ukrainian ships, which were shot at before they were taken over.
The crew must also be released, according to Mr Stoltenberg.
In total, 24 crew members are being held by Russia. Calls from the international community to release them have not yet had any effect.
Russia meanwhile blames the ever-escalating conflict in Ukraine on Poroshenko.
According to the Kremlin, the naval vessels of Ukraine had illegally entered Russian waters. Russian President Putin accused his Ukrainian counterpart Poroshenko of wanting to win voters for next year's presidential election with the 'provocation.'
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sided with NATO boss Stoltenberg and called Russia’s seizure of the Ukrainian vessels “a dangerous escalation and a violation of international law.”
“The United States condemns this aggressive Russian action. We call on Russia to return to Ukraine its vessels and detained crew members, and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Pompeo declared.
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