Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko has signed a declaration of martial law in response to Russian forces capturing three of its naval vessels Sunday. The declaration still needs approval by Ukraine’s parliament, but would reportedly give the government power to restrict public protests, regulate the media, suspend elections, and force citizens to carry out tasks such as working at a defense facilities. Poroshenko signed the decree requesting parliament to declare martial law Monday and orders have been given to put the military on full combat alert. However, the president stressed that the move is not a “declaration of war... Ukraine does not plan to fight anyone.” The three ships were sailing off the coast of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, when they were seized. Ukraine said Russia rammed one of its boats in an “act of aggression,” but Russia insists the ships had illegally entered its waters. If approved by parliament, martial law would be in place for 60 days. There was no mention of a presidential election due to be held in March— opposition politicians have suggested Poroshenko might use the crisis to delay the vote.
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