Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of orchestrating a naval “provocation” in the Black Sea at the weekend in order to boost his flagging popularity ratings before an election next year.

Russia seized three Ukrainian naval vessels and their crews on Sunday over what it said was their illegal entry into Russian waters, something Ukraine denies.

The episode has raised fears in the West of a wider conflict between the two countries and Kiev has since introduced martial law in parts of the country, saying it fears a possible Russian invasion.

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