Pompeo slams Russia for ‘aggressive’ Ukrainian ship capture

Pompeo slams Russia for ‘aggressive’ Ukrainian ship capture
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Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoClarence Thomas, Joe Manchin, Rudy Giuliani among guests at second state visit under Trump Senate Judiciary Committee requests consultation with admin on refugee admissions State Department's top arms control official leaving MORE on Monday slammed Russia for its “aggressive” seizure of three Ukrainian ships and called on Moscow to return the vessels and detained crewmembers to Kiev.

In a statement issued by the State Department on Monday evening, Pompeo also described reports that Russian vessels rammed into and opened fire on Ukrainian ships as a "dangerous escalation" and violation of international law. 

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“The United States condemns this aggressive Russian action. We call on Russia to return to Ukraine its vessels and detained crew members, and to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters,” Pompeo said

“We call on both parties to exercise restraint and abide by their international obligations and commitments,” he said, adding that the U.S. “supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.” 

Ukrainian officials said Sunday that Russia opened fire on some of their ships sailing through the Kerch Strait off the coast of the Crimean Peninsula, a territory that Russia annexed in 2014 to international condemnation. Russia then seized three of the vessels and detained several of the ship’s crewmembers. Russia’s federal security service, the FSB, later confirmed that the ships had been seized, claiming they were unlawfully sailing through Russian territorial waters. 

“The United States expresses its deep concern over the incident in the Black Sea,” Pompeo said Monday. “Reports that Russian vessels rammed and fired on the Ukrainian ships, injuring Ukrainian crewmen, before seizing three vessels, represent a dangerous escalation and a violation of international law.”

The incident inflamed tensions that have simmered in the four years since Russia annexed Crimea. On Monday, Ukrainian lawmakers approved the use of martial law on its borders with Russia.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyJuan Williams: Why does Trump fear GOP voters? Can Carl DeMaio save the California GOP? Treasury: US deficit tops trillion in 11 months MORE was the first Trump administration official to publicly weigh in on the developments Monday morning, accusing Moscow of “dangerous” and “arrogant” behavior that she described as a violation of international law.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE also addressed the situation earlier Monday afternoon, describing the U.S. as unhappy with the developments and willing to work with European allies to address the escalating tensions.

“We do not like what’s happening either way. We don't like what's happening, and hopefully it’ll get straightened out,” Trump told reporters before leaving the White House for a campaign trip to Mississippi. 

“I know Europe is not, they are not thrilled,” Trump said. “They’re working on it too. We’re all working on it together.”

Trump is supposed to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, later this week.