The United States expressed "deep concerns" over the November 25 seizure of three Ukranian ships in the Kerch Strait by Russia and firing from the Russian side that injured Ukranian crewmen.
Calling the incident a "dangerous escalation and a violation of international law," US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo condemned the "aggressive" action by the Russian side.
"We call on Russia to return to Ukraine its vessels and detained crew members, and to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, extending to its territorial waters," Pompeo said in an official press release.
The State Department's spokesperson, Heather Nauert, further mentioned that the Secretary of State had called Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to reiterate US' support for Ukraine. Poroshenko, in turn, expressed his gratitude for the support while outlining the importance of Western nations remaining united in the face of Russian "aggression".
"We call on both parties to exercise restraint and abide by their international obligations and commitments. We urge Presidents Poroshenko and Putin to engage directly to resolve this situation. In that regard, we reiterate our support for the Normandy Four format," the statement underscored.
The press release reinforced US' support for Ukraine and sent out a strong message to Russia by saying, "The United States supports Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, extending to its territorial waters, as well as the right of its vessels to traverse international waters. As stated in our Crimea Declaration, the United States rejects Russia's attempted annexation of Crimea."
Pompeo's statements come in the wake of tense relations between Russia and Ukraine over the incidents that took place in the Kerch Strait, leading to the Ukrainian Parliament voting in favour of introducing martial law in the border areas with Russia. The law is slated to be enforced on November 28.
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