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Ukraine under martial law after Russia conflict — grants huge power

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Ukrainian President Poroshenko
Ukrainian
President Petro Poroshenko poses for a picture with servicemen
during a rehearsal for the Independence Day military parade in
Kiev in August 2018.

REUTERS/Valentyn
Ogirenko


  • Martial law was imposed in parts of Ukraine on
    Wednesday as the government responds to rising
    tensions with Russia.
  • Parliament voted in favor of enacting 30 days of
    martial law on Monday, but president Pyotr Poroshenko says it
    will only impose use its powers in the event of “Russian
    military aggression.”
  • Martial law allows the government to ban protests,
    detain foreigners and seize private property, to censor the
    media and to stop elections.
  • Poroshenko said he was responding to an “act of armed
    aggression” after Russia fired at and captured three Ukrainian
    vessels in the Azov Sea.
  • Poroshenko gave a verbal promise to not restrict
    citizens’ rights and freedoms or introduce censorship.

Parts of Ukraine are now under martial law, giving authorities
sweeping powers to ban protest, seize property, and lock up
foreigners.

The emergency powers were granted to Ukrainian authorities by its
parliament in response to an escalating conflict which Russia,
which reached a climax in a short-lived naval battle in the Sea
of Azov.

MPs in Kiev voted on Monday to impose martial law in parts of the
country from Wednesday morning. They granted to powers to the
government of President Pyotr Poroshenko after he
argued that they are necessary to protect the “state sovereignty
and independence of Ukraine.”

Poroshenko
confirmed via his Facebook page on Wednesday
that martial law
was in effect:

His plea came 
after Russia’s ships attacked and captured
three Ukrainian vessels off the coast of Crimea.

Ukraine considers itself to be at
war with Russia since 2014, when pro-Russian militants declared
revolutions in two eastern provinces, and Russia later annexed
Crimea.

Martial law will be in place for 30 days from Wednesday,
parliament decided. 

It will be in 10 of
Ukraine’s 27 regions, many of which border Russia and the Black
and Azov seas.

Speaking in parliament,
Poroshenko said
that martial law will “be applied only in the
case of Russian military aggression.”

His decree does not make specific mention of what
restrictions will be put in place, but Ukrainian law
grants the authorities sweeping powers.
Ukranian newspaper

Kyiv Post explained more of the potential
implications.

They include the seizure of private property, the control
of mass media, and the deportation and detention of
foreigners.

The law allows for a ban on protests, elections, and
political activities the government views as a security
threat.

Poroshenko
gave a verbal promise that he will not introduce any measures

restricting citizens’ rights and freedoms or introducing
censorship.

“I hope that both politicians and mass media will act
responsibly and adequately in the current situation and will not
attack Ukraine with the theses borrowed from Russian
propagandists,” he said.

“There will be no restriction of rights, there will be no
restriction of freedoms.”

He said in his decree that martial law was needed “in order
to adequately respond to the scaling of the armed aggression of
the Russian Federation against Ukraine.”

He said that no
other legal or constitutional option was sufficient to maintain
the country’s independence amid escalating tensions with
Russia.


Ukraine parliament
Ukrainian
president Petro Poroshenko addresses parliament on Monday on his
proposal to introduce martial law.

REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Russia claims that the s
hips entered Russian
waters illegally and they fired in response, Russian state news agency TASS
reported,
citing the Russian Federal Security Service
(FSB).

Russian Foreign Ministry’s accused Ukraine of carrying out 
a well-thought-out provocation that took place in a
predetermined place and form”
in a statement on 
Monday.

Read More: Russia
confirms it fired at Ukrainian ships in
major
 escalation
of Crimea tensions

Poroshenko said in his decree that the country would
strengthen its border with Russia, mobilise reserve forces, and
boost its counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence
programmes.

He first sought 60 days of martial law but lawmakers
settled on a shorter period amid accusations that Poroshenko was
looking to interfere with an election in which he has a good
chance of losing. Poroshenko denied that the election was his
motivation. 

Poroshenko
also said that the declaration is not an act of war
, and is
exclusively for the defense of Ukraine.

Russia has been steadily increasing its control around the
Crimean peninsula, which it annexed in 2014, and the Kerch
Strait in the Sea of Azov has been a flashpoint in the conflict
between the two countries.


Russia Ukraine Crimea Azov Kerch Strait bridge cargo ship
The
road-and-rail bridge constructed to connect the Russian mainland
with the Crimean Peninsula, in the Kerch Strait,
Crimea.

REUTERS/Pavel
Rebrov


Read More: 

Russia
reopens Kerch Strait to shipping after standoff with
Ukraine

Poroshenko
called the naval incursion incident an “act of armed
aggression”
by Russia and
called on Russia
to release the 24 soldiers and three vessels
that it detained. 

European Council president Donald Tusk condemned Russia’s
actions and urged Moscow to stop provoking Ukraine. “I condemn
Russian use of force in Azov Sea,” he
tweeted.

“Europe will stay united in support of Ukraine.”


Crimea Kerch Strait
The
narrow Kerch Strait separates Crimea from the Russian
mainland.

Google
Maps


Russia and Ukraine called an
emergency session of the UN Security Council on Monday, at which
US ambassador Nikki Haley warned Russia
over what she called an “outrageous violation”
of Ukrainian
sovereignty. 

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu
wrote on Twitter early Monday morning
that the alliance is
closely monitoring the situation, and called for
restraint. 

NATO fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and its
territorial integrity, including its navigational rights in its
territorial waters,” Lungescu tweeted. “We call on Russia to
ensure unhindered access to the Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea,
in accordance with international law.”

Canada,

t
he
UK,
 Germany,
and other countries have condemned Russia, expressing support for
Ukraine’s sovereignty.

US
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned
the “aggressive
Russian action.” He called on Russia to return the detained crew
members and vessels “and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty
and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized
borders, extending to its territorial waters.”

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