America’s United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley lashed out at Russia on Monday at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council called to discuss a naval incident that happened between Russia and the Ukraine over the weekend.
On Sunday, Russia captured three Ukranian ships traveling on the Azov Sea, a body of water that is supposed to be controlled by both Russia and Ukraine, The Washington Post reports. Russia opened fire on the ships, wounding several sailors, then boarded the Ukrainian vessels and took two dozen Ukrainian sailors captive.
Moscow has demanded Ukraine vacate the Azov Sea and the straits leading into and out of the country’s port cities of Odessa and Mariupol, even going so far as to position a giant tanker underneath a bridge Ukrainian ships must pass under on their way out to open water.
Haley called the incident a Russian “outlaw action,” and threatened to take direct action against Russia if relations between the two nations don’t improve.
“But outlaw actions like this one continue to make that impossible,” Haley said. “The United States will maintain its Crimea-related sanctions against Russia. Indeed, further Russian escalation of this kind will only make matters worse.”
She went on to add that Russia acted “illegally,” in stopping the three Ukrainian ships — and that she’d spoken to both President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the incident, and both were in agreement that Russia was the aggressor.
“Sunday’s outrageous violation of sovereign Ukrainian territory is part of a pattern of Russian behavior,” Haley concluded, referencing a series of attacks by Russian forces on Ukrainian interests which have left more than 100,000 Ukrainians dead since the “conflicts” began.
Ukrainian officials reiterated Monday that they believe Russia is trying to make a move on one of their port cities and that they fear a full-scale invasion. Russia, of course, denied any larger plan and said that the three ships refused direct orders from Russian officials to stop for a clearance check.
“Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy envoy, said the Ukrainian ships had ignored Russian calls to stop for a customs check made necessary by threats from Ukrainian radicals to blow up the Russian bridge over the Kerch Strait. He said the Ukrainian ships had illegally crossed Russia’s border,” The Washington Post reported.
“We consider such steps a violation of Russian sovereignty,” he added.