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Poroshenko announces end to martial law in Ukraine

The move to impose martial law came after Poroshenko warned of a build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine's borders, escalating the most dangerous crisis in years between the ex-Soviet neighbours.

FILE: This handout picture taken and released by the Ukrainian Presidential press service shows President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko leading a session of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine in Kiev early on 26 November 2018, following an incident in the Black Sea off Moscow-annexed Crimea. Picture: AFP

KIEV - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday announced the end of a martial law in the country's border regions, which was introduced last month after Russia's seizure of three of Kiev's navy vessels in the Sea of Azov.

"Today, right now, at 2:00pm (1200 GMT) the martial law ends. This is my principal decision," Poroshenko said during a live streamed military cabinet meeting in Kiev.

The president said he had reached the decision "based on analysis of all the components of the security situation in the country".

The move to impose martial law came after Poroshenko warned of a build-up of Russian forces near Ukraine's borders, escalating the most dangerous crisis in years between the ex-Soviet neighbours.

Russian border patrol boats fired on, boarded and seized the three Ukrainian vessels, along with 24 sailors, in November off the coast of Crimea.

Western governments accused Russia of acting illegally and US President Donald Trump cancelled a meeting with Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires over the incident.

"The support and concrete actions of our international partners -- their pressure on the Kremlin combined with a martial law -- have stopped the worst scenario that the Russian Federation planned," Poroshenko said.

"They didn't let Putin cross the new red line," he added.

The martial law was imposed in 10 regions, including areas close to territories controlled by Russia-backed rebels in the east of the country and the Sea of Azov's coast.

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