Russia Fires on Ukrainian Ships, Takes Sailors Hostage

Alternative title: Russia Steals Ukraine’s Toys Again!


The moment of collision. Image from video footage posted by the Ukrainian Interior Minister.

Griffin Sonnemann-Creed, Editor of Features & Extras

Ever since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, Eastern Europe has been in severe political turmoil. Extensions of Russian control over many of the former Soviet states has gradually ramped up in recent years, most likely in part due to the greater control exerted by Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Sunday, Nov. 25, both the world and several boats were rocked when a group of Russian ships and local coast defenses opened fire upon and seized three Ukrainian vessels, including two military gunboats and a tug, according to the BBC. In addition, 23 crewmembers of the three ships were captured and are, at the time of writing, being held captive, having recorded “confessions” which were likely coerced or faked.

The incident is a remarkable upset in international politics. While Ukraine and Russia have never historically been on the best of terms, the seizure of foreign ships can be considered informal declaration of war, and could have major international repercussions for both nations. However, both nations have had a history of seizing the other’s naval vessels. According to the Washington Post, in March 2018, Ukraine captured a Russian fishing ship, releasing the crew but retaining the ship, which remains in Ukraine. In response, in May, Russia apprehended a Ukrainian fishing vessel. However, the Nov. 25 incident marks the first time in which a military vessel has been captured.

Afterwards, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) held a meeting in order to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict, although a solution was unable to be found due to conflicts between Russia, the aggressor, and the other members of the UNSC. Despite no response from the UN, a multitude of western nations have lodged diplomatic protests towards Russia in response to the blatant aggression. One of the most prominent responses was from Canada, a strong ally of the Ukrainian government, who promised to increase Canadian support for the nation and increase military personnel, according to BBC.

In response to the incident, the Ukrainian parliament officially declared martial law in specific regions of the country for 30 days, in a proposition backed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. In an article about the incident published by the Washington Post, it is stated that Poroshenko is likely going to use this incident to build both domestic and international support for Ukraine. As Ukrainian elections are coming up in 2019, Poroshenko may use the incident as a rallying point for the Ukrainian populace and to garner more support for his government. However, the full extent of both Russia and Ukraine’s reactions remain to be seen.