(CNN)Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko warned that his country’s simmering conflict with Russia could quickly spiral into full-scale confrontation following a maritime clash between the two countries over the weekend.
Ukraine said two of its small gunboats and one tugboat were attacked by Russian naval forces Sunday after entering the Kerch Strait en route to the city of Mariupol.
Video of the incident released by Ukrainian officials appeared to show a Russian ship ramming the Ukrainian tugboat.
The incident provoked fury in Kiev, while Russia accused Ukraine of acting as the aggressor and called the incident a “dangerous provocation” by Kiev.
The Kerch Strait — a shallow, narrow stretch of water just two to three miles wide at one point — connects the Azov Sea with the Black Sea and runs between the Crimean Peninsula and Russia. It is an important economic lifeline for Ukraine, as it allows its ships to access the Black Sea.
It’s also the closest point of access for Russia to Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. A Russian-built bridge over the Kerch Strait was opened in May.
A 2003 agreement confirms the Azov Sea and the Kerch Strait as domestic waters of Russia and Ukraine.
Sailors to be detained for two months
West criticizes Russian aggression
CNN’s Nathan Hodge, Mick Krever, Stephanie Halasz and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed to this story
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