‘United’ EU stands behind Ukraine over naval standoff

By Yusuf Hatip

BRUSSELS (AA) – The European Union stands behind Ukraine over naval standoff and “will roll over the sanctions on Russia in December,” the European Council president said on Friday.

“Europe is united in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Donald Tusk said in a Twitter post.

“This is why I am sure that the EU will roll over the sanctions against Russia in December,” he added.

Tusk along with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is in Argentina to attend G20 summit.

U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly canceled a planned meeting with his Russian counterpart Friday on the sidelines of the G20 summit, citing ongoing tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

On Sunday, Russia seized two Ukrainian navy ships and a navy tugboat along with 23 crew members off Crimea, accusing Kiev of entering its waters and provoking a conflict.

It said the vessels had ignored calls to stop, sparking military action.

Russia intervened as the Ukrainian ships were relocating from the Black Sea port of Odessa to the port of Mariupol in the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine also accused Russian warships of opening fire on the ships, asserting that crew members were wounded and the vessels were seized by Russia.

Russia and Ukraine have been at loggerheads since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea after a controversial referendum.

Turkey, as well as the UN General Assembly, viewed the annexation as illegal.

Ukraine has also blamed Russia for separatist violence in eastern Ukraine, near the border with Russia.