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Russia-Ukraine crisis - live: Kiev declares martial law as world powers call emergency meetings after Putin's forces seize ships near Crimea

Ukraine is considering a presidential request for the introduction of martial law in the country following an incident in which Russian coast guard ships fired on Ukrainian navy vessels.  

The Ukrainian navy said six of its seamen were wounded when Russian coast guards opened fire on three Ukrainian ships near the Kerch Strait and then seized them late Sunday.

At an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, Russia was accused of violating international law. Nato also said there was no justification for Russia's actions and called on it to release the Ukrainian ships and sailors. 

Ukraine's representative to the UN Security Council is now giving his statement. He begins by referring to an incident on 26 November 1939 when Soviet Russia orchestrated an incident near the Finnish border as a pretext for an invasion, known as the "Winter War."

Reports that party leaders are concluding negotiations with party leaders. If they have agreed, expect a vote in the next 20-30 mins or so.

The UK representative to the UN Security Council referred to the Salisbury novichok attack in his statement condemning Russia's "deplorable use of military force... and contempt for the rules-based international system".

"These are not the actions of a responsible country," he adds.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has called on Russia to release Ukrainian navy ships and sailors after saying there is "no justification" for Russia's actions.

While Donald Trump has not yet commented on the crisis, the US representative told the UN Security Council she had talked to the president and her statement "reflects the concerns at the highest levels of the US government."

Ms Haley described Russia's actions as a violation of international law and an "arrogant act that the international community must condemn and will never accept".

The UN Security Council is now discussing the situation in Ukraine. A live feed of proceedings is available here

US representative Nikki Haley described the incident as "yet another reckless violation" by Russia.

It followed a statement from the representative of the Russian Federation, who claimed it was a "pre-planned provocation" by Ukraine.

In a related development, Ukraine's biggest state-run bank says an arbitration court in Paris has ruled that Russia must pay £1 billion in damages for property seized in the annexation of Crimea. 

The press service of Oshchadbank said the court ruled in the bank's favour on Monday, and the bank will now take "all possible measures" to get the money back from Russia. 

That could include seizing Russian assets around the world, the bank said. 

The announcement came amid new tensions between the neighbors over Ukrainian naval ships seized by Russia near Crimea. 

Bank official Andriy Pyshnoho encouraged other Ukrainian companies to seek international arbitration "to restore justice" over property seized in Crimea. 

Russia did not immediately respond to the ruling. 

Russia's foreign ministry issued a statement about an hour ago, in which it warns about "the danger of inflating artificial hysteria" in connection with Sunday's incident.

"Clearly, this is a well-thought-out provocation that took place in a predetermined place and form and is aimed at creating another hotbed of tension in that region and a pretext for stepping up sanctions against Russia," the statement reads.

It continues: "We are hereby issuing a warning to Ukraine that Kiev’s policy, pursued in coordination with the United States and the EU, that seeks to provoke a conflict with Russia in the waters of the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea is fraught with serious consequences. The Russian Federation will firmly curb any attempts to encroach on its sovereignty and security."

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko has halved his proposal for martial law in the country to 30 days, an apparent concession to opponents. 

The reduction means that Ukrainian authorities can call the presidential election at the end of December, giving enough time for it to take place at the end of March as expected. 

Mr Poroshenko said in a televised address that he has decided to cut the suggested time frame from 60 days. 
His original proposal was criticized by opponents as an attempt by Mr Poroshenko to scrap the elections at a time when his own approval ratings are low. 

The proposal comes in the wake of Russia's seizure of Ukrainian navy vessels and their crews near Russian-occupied Crimea. 

The Ukrainian parliament is expected to vote on Poroshenko's motion later. 

Just as interesting is to note that as stood, the proposed 60 day martial law WOULD have interfered with elections. Meaning @Leshchenkos right to have a hunch that Poroshenko may have been planning to use new law to shift elex.

Poroshenko explains decision to reduce the period of martial law so it does not interfere with presidential election campaign, which has to start 90 days before the scheduled vote in March.

Poroshenko announces he is also prepared to reduce martial law to 30 days. This looks like where we'll end up.

Petro Poroshenko, addressing the Ukrainian parliament, says martial law will not include any restrictions on citizens' rights and says elections early next year will go ahead on schedule. He proposes imposing military rule for 30 days - it was initially touted to last 60 days.

Three former Ukrainian presidents have joined forces to oppose the motion to impose martial law in the country in the wake of Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian ships and their crews. 

Ukraine's first president from 1991-1994, Leonid Kravchuk, read out a letter signed by him and two other former leaders, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko, objecting to the imposition of martial law. 

Earlier, current president Petro Poroshenko signed a bill to impose martial law. The Ukrainian parliament is due to vote on the issue later in the day. The debate has yet to begin as some lawmakers from the opposition are seeking amendments. 

In their letter, the former presidents said martial law would pose a "threat to democracy" because it will scrap the presidential vote scheduled for next year. 

272 members have signed to vote, physically present in Rada, says MP @Leshchenkos . Poroshenko needs 226 votes for martial law to pass. Prospect that president may not get his quorum, in which case vote will be be postponed. #Ukraine

"We condemn Russia's act of aggression ... This incident provides further evidence of Russia's destabilising behaviour in the region," Theresa May's spokesperson told reporters.

"The UK position is clear, ships must be allowed free passage to Ukrainian ports in the sea of Azov. We urge all parties to act with restraint. Russia must not be allowed to use force to exert greater pressure on Ukraine."

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The two nations traded blame over an incident escalating tensions that have soared since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backed a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine. 

Ukraine said its vessels were heading to the Sea of Azov in line with international maritime rules, while Russia charged that they had failed to obtain a permission to pass through the Kerch Strait separating Crimea from the Russian mainland. 

The narrow strait is the only passage between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. It's spanned by a 11.8 mile bridge that Russia completed this year. 

Ukraine Navy and FM reacts after Russia seizes Ukrainian ships

Ukraine's president, Petro Poroshenko, chaired an emergency meeting of his Cabinet early Monday and asked parliament to introduce martial law in response to what he described as Russian aggression. 

"We consider it as an act of aggression against our state and a very serious threat," the president said. "Unfortunately, there are no 'red lines' for the Russian Federation." 

The Ukrainian military said six of the 23 crew on board its three vessels were wounded. Russia's Federal Security Service that is in charge of the coast guard said that three Ukrainian sailors were lightly injured and given medical assistance.

It said the Ukrainian boats were towed to the nearby port of Kerch. 

Russia closed the Kerch Strait for sea traffic Sunday by positioning a tanker under the bridge spanning it. It reopened the route early Monday. 

The seizure of the Ukrainian ships followed a tense situation in which the three Ukrainian vessels were manoeuvring near the Kerch Strait for hours shadowed by Russian coast guard boats. 

The incident came after months of tensions and incidents in the Sea of Azov that involved inspections and seizures of ships. 

While a 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, Russia has sought to assert greater control over the passage since the annexation of Crimea. 

Additional reporting by agencies

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