Government “deeply concerned” about Russia-Ukraine tensions

Foreign Minister says both sides "need to avoid escalation of the situation" 

Still image from social media video apparently showing the moment a Russian military vessel rams a Ukrainian navy vessel / Credit: Twitter

The Finnish government says it is “deeply concerned” about an escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

Posting on Twitter, Foreign Minister Timo Soini (Blue) says he is “deeply concerned on risen tensions in the Azov Sea” and added that the two sides “need to avoid escalation of the situation”.

“Important to restore free navigation at the Kerch Strait, release captured vessels and their crew, and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” says Soini.

The dispute evolved as Ukrainian gunboats and a tug were captured, and their crews detained, by Russian forces in the Azov Sea off the Crimean peninsula. Russia invaded and illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

Russia accused Ukraine’s ships of entering their territorial waters illegally in the Azov Sea. Ukraine says Russian ships rammed their vessels, and blocked their progress with a tanker under the Kerch bridge.

There have been anti-Russia demostrations overnight in the Ukraine capital Kiev.