During the evening hours (local time) on Monday, November 26, the Ukrainian parliament approved President Petro Poroshenko's martial law bill for 30 days beginning Wednesday, November 28, in Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporishia, Kherson, Mykolaiv, Odesa, and Vinnitsa regions, as well as the Azov-Kerch Strait basin. Under the martial law decree, authorities can restrict public rallies, regulate media, impose curfews, increase security measures at government buildings and other points of interest, seize private property, and call for military mobilization by eligible citizens, among other measures. Under the agreement with parliament, Poroshenko also signed a bill which would guarantee elections scheduled for March 31, 2019. Heightened security measures are to be expected through late December, which is likely to impact freedom of movement within Ukraine.
On November 25, Russian forces opened fire on three Ukrainian Navy ships in the Black Sea near the Kerch Strait. According to reports, the Russian Navy then boarded and seized the three ships, wounding several Ukrainian sailors. Russian officials claim the ships illegally entered Russian waters while the Ukrainian government claims it had notified Russia of the transit. Russia reportedly 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.
Demonstrations took place in front of the Russian Embassy in Kyiv on November 25-26; participants reportedly threw flares and set fires inside the embassy compound.
The ongoing conflict began 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 of eastern Ukraine 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 Ukraine are advised to monitor developments to the situation, adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities, and avoid any protests. Due to the ongoing conflict, many Western governments advise against travel to the far east of Ukraine, including the cities of Donetsk, Horlivka, Makiyivka, and Luhansk.
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