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Ukraine bars entry to Russian men of combat age

Vyacheslav Madiyevsky, Reuters | A member of the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service checks a car with a Russian number plate at the Goptovka crossing point on the border between Russia and Ukraine in Kharkiv Region, Ukraine, November 30, 2018.

Ukraine on Friday banned Russian men of combat age from entering the country, a move introduced under martial law after Russia fired on and captured three Ukrainian naval ships off Crimea last weekend.

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Ukraine announced it was barring entry to Russian men between 16 and 60 years and a senior state security official said Kiev was considering whether to respond in kind with "mirror actions" to the Black Sea incident.

Earlier, in a move applauded in Kiev, US President Donald Trump called off a meeting with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Argentina to signal Washington's disapproval of Russian behaviour in the naval clash with Ukraine.

In a further boost to Ukraine, the EU released €500 million in financial assistance to Kiev and European Council President Donald Tusk predicted Brussels would roll over sanctions on Russia at a summit on December 13-14.

FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg reports from Kiev

President Petro Poroshenko, referring to Russia's seizure and subsequent annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its support for separatist uprisings in eastern Ukraine, said banning Russian men was important for stopping a full-scale invasion.

"These are measures to block the Russian Federation from forming detachments of private armies here, which in fact are representatives of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation," Poroshenko said.

"And not allow them to carry out the operations that they tried to conduct in 2014," he added.

In Moscow, a Russian MP was quoted by RIA news agency as saying Russia had no plans for a reciprocal move to bar Ukrainian men.

Ex-French ambassador to Russia Jean de Gliniasty gives his analysis.

EU solidarity

The EU has propped up Ukraine's war-scarred economy since the Crimea annexation while prodding the pro-Western authorities to pass reforms and tackle corruption.

"Today's European Commission decision on disbursement comes at a crucial moment when Ukraine and its people face a new aggression from Russia and need to see solidarity from international partners," said Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis.

The G7 group of nations also weighed in on Ukraine's behalf, blaming Moscow's actions that had "dangerously raised tensions".

Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for last Sunday's clash at the Kerch Strait through which ships have to pass to reach Ukrainian ports at Berdyansk and Mariupol.

Russia has moved the 24 sailors it captured to prisons in Moscow, where three of them are being treated in a prison hospital, Russian TV said. Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said Ukraine was trying to get consular access to them.

Sunday's clash prompted Ukraine to introduce martial law for a period of 30 days from Wednesday in regions of the country thought most vulnerable to a Russian attack.

A senior ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the EU and United States should consider banning from their ports Russian ships originating from the Azov Sea as a tit-for-tat measure.

Russia says it will deploy a new division of Pantsir medium-range surface-to-air systems – comprising between 12 and 18 military vehicles – on the Crimean peninsula by the end of the year, Interfax news agency quoted a spokesman for the Southern Military District as saying.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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