Ukraine bans Russian men aged 16-60 from entering country

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko speaks to Ukranian servicemen of the airborne troops after their drill in the region of Zhytomyr

Ukraine has banned Russian men of combat age from entering the country, a move introduced under martial law after Russia fired on and captured three Ukrainian naval ships off Crimea last weekend.

The long-simmering conflict bubbled over Sunday when Russian border guards rammed into and opened fire on three Ukrainian boats near the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump canceled his planned meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin because of this crisis.

In interviews with Germany's Bild newspaper and the Funke newspaper group on Thursday, Poroshenko rejected Russia's charge that the vessels' entry into the Sea of Azov - a body of water shared by Ukraine and Russian Federation on which the Ukrainian ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk sit - was a provocation. Fighting in the region has killed more than 10,000 people and exchanges of...

Meanwhile, Putin said his forces were right to move in on the vessels, accusing Ukraine of illegally entering its waters.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday that Ukrainian and Russian presidents should engage directly to resolve their recent confrontation.

"Our superiors stopped our moving and patrolling because of the situation", said Nosenko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian navy. The Ukrainian Orthodox Church was granted independence from the Russian church, a watershed moment that could split eastern Orthodoxy.

Overall, 35 vessels have been prevented from carrying out normal operations and only vessels moving towards Russian ports on the Azov Sea are permitted entry, he said on Facebook.

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Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula in March 2014, claiming its ethnic Russian majority was under threat from the Ukrainian government. At a business forum in Moscow on Wednesday, Putin complained that the West indulges Ukraine too much and would allow Kiev to "get away with anything", up to and including cannibalism.

Reacting to the Ukrainian ban, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow was not planning "mirror" measures as this "could result in full madness".

Tensions between Russian Federation and Ukraine hit a new low on November 25 after Ukrainian Navy gunboats violated Russia's territorial waters and proceeded to engage in unsafe maneuvers in and around the Kerch Strait.

Lubina has not specified how many Ukrainians will be transferred to Moscow. While these ethnic Russians are still Ukrainian citizens and presumably would not be hit by the sanctions, this does reflect the close relationship that these border regions have with Russia.

In Ukraine, very little changed on the ground on Wednesday.

The BBC found it unlikely that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation would deploy warships to the Sea of Azov, which is connected to the Black Sea via the Kerch Strait, a strategically vital passage that was the scene of Sunday's attack on Ukrainian ships by Russian forces.

Jürgen Trittin, Germany's former environment minister and the current vice chairman of the German-Russian Friendship Group in the Bundestag, told DW that he thinks the decision by Ukraine "is not wise". (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka) A detained crew member (L) of one of Ukrainian naval ships, which were recently seized by Russia's FSB security service, walks out of a vehicle before a court hearing in Simferopol, Crimea November 28, 2018.

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