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Crimea already hosts three battalions of the anti-aircraft missile systems which have a range of up to 400 km (250 miles) allowing Russian Federation to control large swaths of the skies above the Black Sea.

Moscow and Kiev have traded angry accusations since Russian navy vessels fired on, boarded and captured the three Ukrainian ships off the coast of Crimea.

"The goal is simple - by placing a blockade on the Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov, Russia hopes to drive Ukraine out of our own territory - the territory that is ours in accordance with all relevant global laws", the minister stressed.

This is the first open armed confrontation between Ukraine and Russian Federation since the annexation of Crimea in March 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called Russia's seizure of the Ukrainian vessels "a unsafe escalation and a violation of global law" and called for restraint from both countries.

Ukraine said its ships did nothing wrong and have every right to use the strait without Russian permission.

At least three Ukrainian sailors were wounded when Russian FSB border guards opened fire on two Ukrainian gunboats and a tug off Crimea.

The strait that connects the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov has significant political, military and economic importance for Ukraine. Twenty-four sailors were detained and "courts" in Russian-occupied Crimea ruled that they be detained for two months, pending trial.

"It was organized by the president [Poroshenko] ahead of the elections" scheduled for March, he said, adding that Poroshenko is "is in fifth place, ratings-wise, and therefore had to do something".

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All of the sailors face jail terms of up to six years if found guilty of what Moscow says was a plot to illegally cross the Russian border by trying to pass through the strait without advance notice and ignoring calls to stop. Recent polls suggest that only about 10% of the electorate plans to vote for him next year, with and almost 50% saying they would not vote for him under any circumstances, the Kyiv Post newspaper reported.

But Putin, in his first public comments on the Black Sea incident, said that the Ukrainian vessels had clearly been in the wrong, dismissed the clash as a minor border issue, and accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of having orchestrated the crisis in order to boost his dire ratings.

Ukrainian officials published a map on Wednesday, placing all three Ukrainian boats just outside Crimea's territorial waters at the time they were seized.

Western governments have rallied behind Kiev, accusing Russian Federation of illegally blocking access to the Sea of Azov, used by both countries, and of using force without justification.

Russian Federation asserts that the ships, which were travelling to the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol from Odessa by way of the Kerch Strait, failed to request authorization and engaged in unsafe maneuvers.

After three days of debate, the European Union issued a statement expressing "utmost concern about the unsafe increase of tensions" and dismay at the "unacceptable" use of force by Russian Federation.

US President Donald Trump has also said he may cancel a planned meeting with Mr Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires later this week.

Germany is still committed to the NordStream 2 pipeline, which will allow Russian Federation to bypass Ukraine in transporting gas to Europe, despite escalating tension in the region, a government spokesman in Berlin said on Wednesday.


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