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Martial law expires in Ukraine

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By Reuters
Martial law expires in Ukraine
FILE PHOTO - Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko speaks during the news conference in Kiev, Ukraine December 16, 2018. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko   -   Copyright  VALENTYN OGIRENKO(Reuters)

KIEV (Reuters) – Martial law, imposed on Nov. 25 in some Ukrainian areas after Russia captured three Ukrainian ships, expired on Wednesday, President Petro Poroshenko told the country’s security council.

Poroshenko said earlier this month he did not plan to extend martial law beyond the one month initially foreseen unless there was a large scale attack from Russia.

The Ukrainian navy ships were captured in the Kerch Strait, between Russian-annexed Crimea and southern Russia, which controls access to the Sea of Azov, where there are both Russian and Ukrainian ports.

Moscow said the ships entered Russian waters while trying to cross the strait without prior notice, ignoring orders to stop. Kiev said its ships needed no Russian permission to cross the strait.

Under the martial law, Ukraine banned Russian men of combat age from entering the country and boosted security at critical sites such as nuclear power stations and Black Sea ports.

Ukraine’s military chief said this month Russia had been ramping up its forces near the border since August and now poses the greatest military threat since 2014, the year it annexed Crimea.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)