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G7 Calls Russia's Seizure Of Ukrainian Ships 'Unjustified'

A Ukrainian border guard checks a car with a Russian license plate at the Goptovka crossing point on the border between Russia and Ukraine in the Kharkiv region on November 30.

The Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized countries have called Russia's seizure of three Ukrainian vessels unjustified and demanded the release of the 24 captured Ukrainian sailors, saying the standoff had "dangerously raised tensions."

In a November 30 statement, the foreign ministers of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States, as well as the EU's high representative, called on Russia "to release the detained crew and vessels and refrain from impeding lawful passage through the Kerch Strait."

"There is no justification for Russia's use of military force against Ukrainian ships and naval personnel," the statement said.

The G7 urged "restraint, due respect for international law, and the prevention of any further escalation."

The group reiterated that it "does not, and will never, recognize Russia's illegal annexation of the Crimean Peninsula" while reaffirming its "unwavering support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Ukraine imposed martial law in 10 regions that mostly border Russia or the Sea of Azov after the recent sea confrontation. The decision marked the first time Kyiv has taken such a step since Russia seized Crimea in March 2014.

Western leaders have criticized Russia and called for the release of the Ukrainian servicemen.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP