On the morning (local time) of Sunday, November 25, Russian forces reportedly opened fire on three Ukrainian Navy ships in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait. According to reports, the Russian Navy later boarded and seized the three ships - two gunboats and a tugboat - wounding several Ukrainian sailors. Both Russia and Ukraine blame each other for the incident; Russian officials claim the ships illegally entered its territorial waters while the Ukrainian government claims it had notified Russia in advance of the transit of the three ships from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov. According to reports, Russia later placed ships under the Kerch bridge, blocking all commercial shipping through the Kerch Strait. Further incidents between Russian and Ukrainian forces cannot be ruled out.
In response to the blocking of the Kerch Strait, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced his intention on Sunday evening to put forward a proposal to declare martial law throughout Ukraine. On Monday, November 26, the Ukrainian Parliament is expected to discuss the proposal.
Conflict erupted in eastern Ukraine in April 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula. Since then, tensions remain high between the two countries and Ukrainian state forces regularly clash with Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas region despite a number of ceasefire agreements made since 2014. According to the UN, more than 10,300 people have died in the conflict.
Individuals in the area region are advised to monitor developments to the situation and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.
Due to the ongoing conflict, many Western governments advise against travel to the far east of Ukraine, including the cities of Donetsk, Horlivka, Makiyivka, Mariupol, and Luhansk.
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