Russian Federation and Ukraine refuse to back down as United Nations chief urges calm

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Petro Tsygykal, chief of the Ukrainian Border Guard Service, announced at a security meeting on Friday that all Russian males between 16 and 60 will be barred from traveling to the country while martial law is in place.

"Germany is one of our closest allies and we hope that states within North Atlantic Treaty Organisation are now ready to relocate naval ships to the Sea of Azov in order to assist Ukraine and provide security", Poroshenko said.

Ukraine imposed martial law this week, citing fears that Russia was planning a full scale invasion after Russian vessels fired on and captured Ukrainian ships last weekend.

Ukraine toughened its stance in its increasingly tense confrontation with Russia on Friday, banning entry to all Russian men of fighting age in what Ukraine's president said was an effort to prevent the Kremlin from destabilizing the country.

Residents of towns and villages on both sides of the frontier make regular cross-border trips to see relatives and shop at local markets, but they won't be able to do so for the duration of the ban.

A senior ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the European Union and United States should consider banning from their ports Russian ships originating from the Azov Sea as a tit-for-tat measure.

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On Sunday, Russian Navy patrol boats carrying special operations forces (SOF) seized three Ukrainian Navy vessels that were heading toward the port of Mariupol, which is situated on the Sea of Azov.

"We can only resolve this in talks with one another because there is no military solution to all of these conflicts", she added.

Moscow insists Ukraine were illegally entering the waters - something Kiev strongly refutes, saying prior notice was given. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka) A Ukrainian soldier gets ready at position near frontline with Russia-backed separatists in Shyrokyne, eastern Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. This includes a potential Russian stranglehold over the port of Mariupol, from which flows steel and iron constituting 40 percent of Ukraine's annual export revenue and a large portion of its grain exports. By opening fire on the Ukrainian vessels, Moscow reinforced its message that Crimea is Russian for good.

"Putin wants the old Russian empire back".

The Holy and Sacred Synod granted the Church of Ukraine autonomy late Thursday.

Merkel says that beyond Ukraine, Russia has been aggressive in several other nations creating "a belt of countries that cannot develop in the way they want and we can't, as Germans, close our eyes to that".

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The Ukrainian parliament on Monday voted in favour of Poroshenko's request for martial law, which gives authorities the power to mobilise citizens with military experience, regulate the media and restrict public rallies in affected areas.

Ukraine has announced martial law for 30 days in its 10 regions that border Russian Federation, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

Since its annexation of Crimea, however, Russian Federation increasingly has sought to exercise complete control over the straits, the only entry point to the Sea of Azov.

In addition, President Trump says he canceled his meeting with President Vladimir Putin at the G20 Summit, which begins in Buenos Aires on Friday.

"The two leaders expressed deep concern about the incident in the Kerch Strait and the continued detainment of Ukraine's vessels and crew members", a White House statement said on Wednesday.

"I recognise that the actions of the ships with military hardware of Ukraine's navy had a provocative character", said one Ukranian sailor, Vladimir Lisov.

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Ukraine's foreign ministry sent Moscow a diplomatic note in protest at the "illegal" detentions.

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