Ukraine's Poroshenko proposes terminating treaty on friendship with Russian Federation

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The pretext for the decision to declare martial law was an incident in the Kerch Strait on November 25, when three Ukrainian warships, en route from Odessa to Mariupol, illegally crossed Russia's state border, entered Russia's territorial waters and started performing unsafe maneuvers.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko introduced martial law last week for a period of 30 days in regions of the country thought most vulnerable to a Russian attack. But Poroshenko has pledged that martial law wouldn't interfere with the vote.

But Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimean peninsula in 2014, claimed the Ukrainian boats entered its territorial waters without permission.

The UK does not now have a presence in the Black Sea but Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said Ukraine was a "steadfast partner" and that Britain would continue to carry out joint training programmes and military exercises.

'Ukraine is taking its own steps in response to the threat of a large-scale Russian invasion, ' the Ukrainian leader said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg repeated a call for Russian Federation to return the sailors and ships and ensure freedom of navigation in the Azov Sea, an offshoot of the Black Sea home to key Ukrainian ports.

The official told reporters Tuesday that during a North Atlantic Council meeting on Black Sea security, the United States "reiterated that we condemn this Russian act of aggression, that Crimea is Ukraine, and that the Russian action in Kerch is a clear military escalation and violation of global law and freedom of the sea".

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The aim would be to create a land corridor between the eastern Ukranian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, which are partly controlled by Russian-backed separatists, and Crimea, which has been annexed by Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said during the weekend it is "too early" to return Ukrainian sailors and naval vessels, accusing Ukraine of provoking an incident as a distraction from domestic problems.

The chief also said NATO is concerned about new Russian missile system "which puts the INF treaty [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty] in jeopardy".

In Russia, Moscow's top rights official Tatyana Potyaeva visited the three wounded Ukrainian sailors who are being treated for hand, arm and leg injuries in the medical unit of the Matrosskaya Tishina remand prison.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation foreign ministers are expected Wednesday to activate Bosnia's Membership Action Plan, a reform process that prepares countries for membership.

The Kremlin has called the naval incident a provocation meant to shore up Poroshenko's sagging popularity. The State Department added that these areas controlled by Russian forces have grappled with an "ongoing-armed conflict has resulted in more than 10,000 deaths" since 2014, adding that "individuals, including USA citizens, have been threatened, detained, or kidnapped for hours or days after being stopped at checkpoints controlled by Russia-led forces".

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