'Squash him... hold on tight!': Extraordinary moment Russian commander orders his ship to RAM a Ukrainian navy tugboat before firing on three vessels during unprecedented stand-off in the Black Sea – prompting fears of military escalation (17 Pics)

Flashpoint: Extraordinary footage captures the moment a Russian coast guard vessel rammed a Ukrainian navy tugboat under the orders 'squash him'

Russia seized three Ukrainian naval ships off the coast of Russia-annexed Crimea after opening fire on them and wounding several sailors, a move that risks igniting a dangerous new crisis between the two countries.
Russia's FSB security service said early on Monday its border patrol boats captured the Ukrainian naval vessels in the Black Sea and used weapons to force them to stop, Russian news agencies reported.
The FSB said it had been forced to act because the ships - two small Ukrainian armoured artillery vessels and a tug boat - illegally entered its territorial waters, attempted illegal actions, and ignored warnings to stop while manoeuvring dangerously.
"Weapons were used with the aim of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships," the FSB said in a statement.
"As a result, all three Ukrainian naval vessels were seized in the Russian Federation's territorial waters in the Black Sea."
President Petro Poroshenko, the Ukrainian leader, met high-ranking military aides early on Monday after the incidentPoroshenko said he would propose that parliament impose martial law.
The United Nations Security Council is due to discuss the developments at the request of Russia, said Deputy Russian UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy.
According to the Ukrainian navy, six sailors were wounded when a Russian ship fired on Ukraine's vessels near the Kerch Straita narrow sea passage close to the Crimean peninsula that separates the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
"Small armoured vessels, the Beryansk and the Nicopol have been damaged by enemy fire and can't move," the navy said in a Facebook post.
The incident followed a naval standoff that escalated on Sunday when Moscow placed a large cargo ship beneath the 19km-long Crimean Bridge, which connects the Russian-annexed peninsula with its mainland, blocking all traffic into the strait, the only passage into the Sea of Azov.
Both countries have the right to use the sea, but following Russia's annexation of Crimeain 2014 Moscow controls both sides of the strait.
Crew members on board the Russian ship were told to 'hold on tight' as it ploughed in to the Ukrainian tug in the Kerch Strait, a narrow channel of water separating annexed Crimea from mainland Russia

While trying to stop the ships, a Russian navy ship rammed the Ukrainian tugboat.
"What's happening now is an absolutely new level of aggression," Ukraine's Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin was quoted by Ukrainian media as saying. "Russia's actions are [about] a real intention to seize the Sea of Azov."
Pro-Russian authorities in annexed Crimea accused the United States of being behind the escalation.
"Our American partners who rule Ukraine are behind all this. I am absolutely sure that everything is done following their commands. What's important for them is to get Russia involved in another confict," Vladimir Konstantinov, head of Crimea's parliament, told Russia media.
Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from the Russian capital, Moscow, said Sunday's events appeared to be "a series of escalations that seem to have culminated in extended fire".
"This is something that seems to be getting very volatile."
The conflict took place in the Kerch Strait (pictured) - where Russia said Ukrainian ships made 'unauthorised crossings'. Russia blocked the passage using a huge cargo ship (pictured) under the Kerch Bridge connecting the Russian mainland with the Crimean Peninsula

The Kerch Strait is an important trade route for Ukraine as it gives ships access to the city of Mariupol, a key port located in the Sea of Azov.
Several dozen ships were anchored near the strait as they waited for the standoff to be solved, marine traffic tracker website VesselFinder.com showed on Sunday.
A small armoured Ukrainian artillery ship and a tug boat are seen anchored in the Black Sea port of Kerch, Ukraine, after being seized by Russia

In a statement late on Sunday, NATO said it was closely monitoring developments and called for restraint and de-escalation.
"NATO fully supports Ukraine's sovereignty and its territorial integrity, including its navigational rights in its territorial waters. We call on Russia to ensure unhindered access to Ukrainian ports in the Azov Sea, in accordance with international law."
Maja Kocijancic, spokesperson for the European Union, said in a statement: "We expect Russia to restore freedom of passage at the Kerch strait and urge all to act with utmost restraint to de-escalate the situation immediately.
"As clearly stated by the High Representative at the European Parliament recently, the events in the Sea of Azov are a demonstration of how instability and tensions are bound to rise when the basic rules of international cooperation are disregarded," the statement added. 
The rising volatility near the Kerch Strait is the latest in an ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine following the developments in Crimea four years ago.
The annexation followed the overthrow of pro-Russian Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich after weeks of protests that descended into a violent conflict.
Later, pro-Russian separatists took over parts of Donbass in southeastern Ukraine.
Since then, fighting in that region has killed more than 13,000 people, including about 3,000 civilians.
Russia says three Ukrainian Navy vessels (pictured) illegally crossed the Russian border and intruded into Russia's territorial waters
The incident began earlier on Sunday when a Russian coast guard vessel rammed this Ukrainian navy tugboat (pictured)
One Ukrainian navy tugboat was travelling with two artillery boats from Odessa on the Black Sea to Mariupol in the Sea of Azov 
A 2003 treaty designated the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov (shown) as shared territorial waters, but Russia has been asserting greater control over the passage since 2015
A man places a paper boat outside the Russian Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, during a protest against the seizure by Russian special forces of three of the Ukrainian navy's ships
The paper boats have been placed just metres away from security guards policing the entrance to the Russian embassy
The boats have been placed along the walls that surround the consulate in the Ukrainian capital
The protest comes after three crew were injured in conflict in the Kerch Strait and tensions between Ukraine and Russia heighten
Police officers stand near smoke flares which were thrown by protesters during a rally against the seizure of Ukrainian ships
Flares were hurled over the fence at the embassy upon the news that three crew members had been injured in the conflict
Crowds gather outside the consulate in the Ukrainian capital to protest the violence in the Kerch Strait
Two Ukrainian forces navy ships are seen near Crimea in a photo handed out by the Ukrainian Navy Press Service
Transit under the Kerch Bridge (pictured, in a file image) has been blocked by a tanker ship and dozens of cargo ships awaiting passage are stuck

'Squash him... hold on tight!': Extraordinary moment Russian commander orders his ship to RAM a Ukrainian navy tugboat before firing on three vessels during unprecedented stand-off in the Black Sea – prompting fears of military escalation (17 Pics) 'Squash him... hold on tight!': Extraordinary moment Russian commander orders his ship to RAM a Ukrainian navy tugboat before firing on three vessels during unprecedented stand-off in the Black Sea – prompting fears of military escalation (17 Pics) Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 00:26 Rating: 5

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