Ukraine pleads for Nato naval aid in Russia standoff
President Poroshenko also called on Germany, one of its "closest allies," to protect Ukraine from Russian aggression
Ukraine’s president has called on Nato to deploy ships to the Sea of Azov to protect his country amid fears of further confrontations with Russian warships off the Crimean coast.
Petro Poroshenko also accused Russian president Vladimir Putin of wanting his old empire back and of regarding Ukraine as a colony. He urged the western world to unite and not “accept Russia’s aggressive policy”.
“Germany is one of our closest allies, and we hope that states within Nato are now willing to deploy naval vessels to the Sea of Azov in order to support Ukraine and to guarantee its safety,” he told German newspaper, Bild.
Tensions between the two sides in the four-year conflict soared on Sunday when Russia fired on and seized Ukrainian navy ships entering the Sea of Azov in the Kerch Strait, and arrested the 24 sailors on board. Russia has said charges against them will now be pressed.
However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has insisted there was no military solution on Thursday calling for "sensible dialogue" instead. She called for all the Ukranian's detained to be released.
The Kremlin claimed the ships had infringed on Russian borders deliberately in a provocative act and held Ukrainian intelligence officers. NATO has shown its support for Ukraine, which is not a member state.
Mr Poroshenko rebuffed the allegations, accusing Mr Putin of telling “fairy tales” to the world. “Do not believe any of the lies that Putin is telling you. This is ridiculous. Do you remember when he told the world that there were no Russian soldiers on Crimea?”
He said public evidence clearly showed Russian soldiers were the aggressors. As a result Ukraine has declared martial law in border areas for 30 days, a move condemned by the Kremlin.
Pro-Russian separatist seized the Crimea in 2014, a move that sparked the current standoff with Ukraine. Russia has always denied it has sent soldiers to Crimea despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The Ukrainian president said the attacks in 2014 were all part of Mr Putin’s desire to be a “Russian emperor, and his empire cannot work without Ukraine.”
Mr Poroshenko was talking ahead of the third German-Ukrainian economic forum in Berlin, where Mrs Merkel and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman will make the opening remarks. Mrs Merkel has sought to play a mediating role between the two sides and urged restraint in a phone call with Mr Putin.
Updated: November 29, 2018 08:09 PM