Russian military forces blocked all passage through the Kerch Strait on Sunday, barring Ukrainian naval forces access to the waterway that connects the Azov Sea with the Black Sea. As tensions continued to escalate, Russian troops fired on and boarded three Ukrainian vessels. Six Ukrainian sailors were wounded as Russia seized control of the ships.

“Weapons were used with the aim of forcibly stopping the Ukrainian warships,” Russia’s FSB said in a statement circulated to Russian state media outlets.

“As a result, all three Ukrainian naval vessels were seized in the Russian Federation’s territorial waters in the Black Sea.”

Moscow has claimed the blockade and ensuing violence were the result of the three ships — two armored artillery vessels and one tug boat — entering into Russian waters illegally and ignoring formal warnings to desist in “illegal activities.” Ukrainian officials have accused Moscow of fabricating the incident as an excuse to provoke a military engagement between the two nations.

NATO has issued a statement in support of Ukraine:

The Russian Air Force deployed Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoots, aircraft renown for their close air support capabilities and commonly referred to as “flying tanks.” The Su-25’s Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-2 30mm auto-cannon, which can fire at a blistering rate of 2,500 to 3,000 rounds per minute, and it’s reputation for taking a beating and staying airborne have prompted many to draw comparisons between the Su-25 and America’s legendary A-10 Thunderbolt II.

Russian Kamov Ka-50 “Black Shark” attack helicopters were also seen patrolling the area. They appeared to be equipped with drop-tanks to enable long-duration flight alongside their usual loadout of rockets and anti-tank missiles.

Feature images courtesy of Twitter