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Subject Ukrainian navy threatens to SHOOT Russian FSB boats harassing ships near the Kerch Strait just hours before Putin closed it to foreign warships a
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Original Message Three Ukrainian artillery boats on patrol near Kerch Strait overnight Wednesday when they were confronted
Five Russian coast guard vessels performed 'provocative manoeuvres' near the Gyurza-M-class artillery boats
Ukrainian sailors threatened to open fire before the Russian craft sailed away, according to Ukraine new site
Incident came just hours before Russia closed the strait to all foreign warships as tensions continue to mount
Echoes 2018 incident when Russian coast guard capture three Ukrainian vessels, sparking diplomatic crisis

The Ukrainian navy threatened to shoot Russian coast guard vessels near the Kerch Strait just hours before Putin closed the waterway to foreign warships in the latest sign of mounting tensions in eastern Europe.

The standoff took place between three Ukrainian Gyurza-M-class artillery boats and five unidentified vessels belonging to Russia's FSB coast guard service overnight between Wednesday and Thursday, according to Black Sea News editor Andrii Klymenko who monitors military activity in the area.

Russian vessels began making 'provocative manoeuvres' around the Ukrainian boats and only backed off after they threatened to open fire, Mr Klymenko reported. The incident happened within 25 miles of the Kerch Strait.

The incident has echoes of a 2018 clash between Ukraine and Russia in the strait which led to three Ukrainian ships being captured and Russia blocking the strait using a large container ship, sparking a diplomatic crisis.

Just hours after the latest incident took place, Russia again announced that it was closing the strait to foreign warships until October - ostensibly so that naval training exercises can take place.Ukraine has branded the move a violation of its rights.

The move cuts off the Sea of Azov to the outside world including the Ukrainian port cities of Mariupol and Berdiansk, which border the Donbas region where fighting is currently taking place between Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces.

It also makes it much harder for Ukraine's allies to ship supplies and reinforcements to the disputed region, should Moscow decide to march troops that it has been massing along the border into Ukraine.

There are now more than 80,000 Russian soldiers in the region along with thousands of tanks and vehicles, amid warnings that number could top 115,000 by next week.
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