Troops sent to Russian border as tensions rise

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Moscow's actions in the Sea of Azov have occurred in the context of a dramatic increase in the size and capability of Russia's Black Sea fleet and land-based forces in Crimea under the Russian state armament program.

The lower house of Russian parliament, the State Duma, approved a statement Tuesday accusing the Ukrainian president of a "reckless and cynical attempt to change the situation in his favour" and a "desire to cling to power at any cost even at the threat of a full-scale war".

Merkel secured a pledge from Russian President Vladimir Putin on the issue in August, Maas said.

President Petro Poroshenko is fearful that Putin could try to seize the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, located around the Sea of Azov.

Her meeting with Putin in Argentina took place a week after Russian Federation seized three Ukrainian ships and 24 crew members in a clash in the Kerch Strait, an important shipping channel that links the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.

He said that some military units will be redeployed to strengthen the nation's defences in a ratcheting up of tensions between the neighbouring countries.

Mr Omelyan, Ukraine's infrastructure minister, said on Tuesday that ships were "navigating through the Kerch Strait to and from Ukrainian ports".

All 24 sailors of the said three vessels have been captured.

Ukraine says Russian Federation has purposely held up its ships to choke its Azov Sea ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk, from which metals and agricultural goods are exported.

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Relations between Russia and Ukraine have been tense in recent years after Russian-backed separatists annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014.

For the duration of martial law, Ukrainian authorities barred entry to all Russian men aged 16 to 60 in a move the Ukrainian leader said was needed to prevent Russia from further destabilizing the country.

Ukrainian officials have denied that the vessels were in Russian waters and they had the right to sail through the Kerch Strait.

Russian Federation is resisting worldwide calls to release three Ukrainian ships seized last month in the Kerch Strait, which controls access to the Sea of Azov near the Crimea region that Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. After the clash, Kiev said no Ukrainian ships were allowed through.

Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko looks likely to be disappointed in his call for North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to deploy naval vessels to the Sea of Azov, an offshoot of the Black Sea.

Ukraine has introduced martial law in parts of the country for 30 days, and Poroshenko said on Saturday military reservists in those areas would practice mobilizing and that military factories would be changing the way they worked too. But Poroshenko has pledged that martial law would not interfere with the vote.

Commercial ships and warships under either the Russian flag or the Ukrainian flag shall enjoy freedom of movement in the Azov Sea and Kerch Strait.

The Kremlin has called the naval incident a provocation meant to shore up Poroshenko's sagging popularity.

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