Ukraine Declares Martial Law as Tensions With Russia Soar

Officials say move stops short of a declaration of war

Following up on Sunday’s maritime incident in the Sea of Azov, the Ukrainian parliament voted Monday on a declaration of martial law. They are presenting this as a “partial mobilization” of the military as officials hype the possibility of war with Russia.

The martial law will formally begin on Wednesday, and last for 30 days. President Petro Poroshenko said he intends to respect the rights of individual Ukrainian citizens during this period.

Importantly, Ukrainian officials are emphasizing that this move is short of a declaration of war on Russia. On Sunday, officials had said the National Security and Defense Council was meeting and intended to declare a “state of war,” though it does not appear any public declaration happened.

On Sunday, three Ukrainian ships crossed into Russian territorial waters, and were seized. Russia said this area of the Sea of Azov was closed for security reasons. Ukraine is demanding the return of the ships and the sailors. Russia says they are temporarily impounded, and that the three sailors wounded in the incident have already been treated and are in no medical danger.

Russian officials are downplaying the incident as a minor one, while Ukrainian officials are already identifying a series of border areas that they expect ground troops to invade. Ukraine has been predicting a Russian invasion for years.

As is often the case, the US and NATO are embracing the Ukrainian narrative, and condemning Russia. Such condemnations come as a matter of course, but so far, are stopping short of any threats to escalate this militarily into a global war.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.