Ukraine's president donned combat fatigues to implement martial law in much of the country on Wednesday, a move Russia denounced as a cynical political trick as both sides ratcheted up tensions after a weekend standoff in the Black Sea. Each side blamed the other for the bellicose turn of events, with Ukraine saying Russia is preparing for a full-scale invasion and Moscow calling it a political stunt by an unpopular president facing tough elections. Poroshenko toured a military training center in the Chernihiv region bordering Russia, one of the areas where martial law was imposed. The camouflage-clad president pledged "not to allow the enemy to attack Ukraine" and announced a hike in salaries for servicemen, the AP reports.
In Moscow, Vladimir Putin accused his Ukrainian counterpart of provoking the naval incident in order to shore up his sagging popularity ahead of the March election. "The Black Sea incident certainly was a provocation organized by the sitting government," Putin said. A court in Crimea's regional capital, Simferopol, has ordered all 24 Ukrainian crewmen to be held in custody for two months on charges of violating the Russian border pending trial. Ukraine, which insists its detained seamen are prisoners of war, has asked the International Red Cross to arrange a visit to see them. Ukraine released what it said was the exact location where its ships were fired on by Russia, saying they were in international waters west of the Kerch Strait.
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