Ukrainian Ambassador the the United Nations Volodymyr Yelchenko (Image: AP/Seth Wenig)

Russia’s firing on and then seizing three Ukrainian navy vessels attempting to pass through the Kerch Straits has raised fears of direct confrontation between the two countries, following Russia’s 2014 intervention in the separation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The blocking of Ukrainian naval access to the Sea of Azov has sparked strong protests in Kiev and led the Ukrainian government to consider imposing martial law.