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Ukrainian Navy Claim Their Tugboat Was Deliberately Rammed By Russian Ship

Ukraine has accused Russia of "openly aggressive actions" after its ship was rammed by a Russian coast guard vessel off the coast of Crimea.

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Library picture of Ukraine's navy on exercise (Picture: Ukrainian Navy Facebook)

Ukraine has accused Russia of "openly aggressive actions" after one of its tugboats was rammed by a Russian coast guard vessel off the coast of Crimea.

According to the Ukrainian navy, it resulted in damage to their ship's engine, hull, side railing and a lifeboat.

The incident took place as two Ukrainian navy artillery boats and a tugboat were sailing from Odessa on the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov, via the Kerch Strait, a narrow passage between Crimea and the Russian mainland.

A Ukrainian navy statement said:

"Russian coast guard vessels ... Carried out openly aggressive actions against Ukrainian navy ships." 

It added that Russia had been informed in advance about the planned transit.

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(Image: Ukrainian Navy Facebook)

Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) told Russian news agencies that the Ukrainian ships held their course and violated Russian territorial waters, which were temporarily closed.

"Their goal is clear," an FSB statement said, "to create a conflict situation in the region". The statement did not mention ramming a Ukrainian tugboat.

The Interfax news agency reported later that Russia has since closed the passage to civilian traffic, citing a local port authority, due to heightened security concerns.

Though a 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters, Russia has been asserting greater control over the passage since 2015.

Gavin Williamson in Ukraine
Gavin Williamson meeting the Ukrainian military on 19 September (Picture: European Pravda/Twitter).

In September, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson announced the UK would commit further Royal Marine commandos and a naval attache to Ukraine in a bid to bolster defences against Russia.

The extra troops will provide combat training to the Ukrainian military and help build the country's naval capabilities.