Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Wednesday he was terminating the period of the martial law imposed in several regions of the country shortly after the Kerch Strait incident.
"It is exactly 14:00 [Kiev time, 12:00 GMT]… and the martial law is terminated. This is my principal decision, it is based on the analysis of the current security situation in the state and despite the fact that the situation around Ukraine has not changed much," the president announced at a meeting of the National Security Council.
Commenting on the upcoming vote, he stated that martial law has not affected the presidential election in Ukraine, which is scheduled for March 31.
"We guarantee that the presidential elections will take place on March 31, 2019, I emphasize this," Poroshenko said.
On Poroshenko's Possible Second Term
Meanwhile, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said in an interview with Russian media that the United States is interested in keeping Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in office for the second term, so Washington closes its eyes to Poroshenko's provocations on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
"Obviously, Washington is interested in keeping Poroshenko as the [Ukrainian] head of state for the second term, so it closes its eyes to the most odious personalities from the camp of the Ukrainian neo-Nazis," Patrushev said.
The official noted that it was precisely this feeling of US support that allowed Poroshenko to confidently go for any provocations, including on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
The Ukrainian president's remarks came after Russia's President Vladimir Putin said that the Kerch Strait incident was a provocation prepared in advance as a pretext to introduce martial law and suspend voting rights ahead of Ukraine's presidential election, as Poroshenko's popularity ahead of the vote has been low.
On November 25, Ukraine's Berdyansk and Nikopol gunboats and the Yany Kapu tugboat illegally crossed the Russian maritime border as they sailed toward the Kerch Strait, the entrance to the Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian vessels were seized by Russia after failing to respond to a demand to stop. Following the incident, Poroshenko signed a decree declaring martial law in several Ukrainian regions located near the Russian border.