Azov Sea Crisis: Ukrainian President Supports Proposal for Martial Law
26 November, 2018

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has stated that he supports the war council’s proposition to introduce martial law for a period of 60 days as a result of Russia’s attack on Ukrainian ships in the Kerch Strait.

The parliament is set to meet on November 26 at 4 p.m. Kyiv time to discuss the issue, according to the Chairman of the Ukrainian parliament Andriy Parubiy.

President Poroshenko stated during a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council that he will refer the issue to parliament.

He further added that martial law in Ukraine:

  • Would not mean that Ukraine will carry out offensive operations. The Armed Forces will solely defend their territory.
  • Would not mean a change to positions on the demarcation line in the Donbas or anywhere else.
  • Would not provide for immediate mobilization of the nation. However, reserve soldiers need to be at the ready, Poroshenko said. 
  • Would not provide for restrictions of constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens.
  • Would not mean Ukraine will abandon the peaceful settlement of the conflict with the Russian Federation in the Donbas.

However, according to the 2015 bill “On the Legal Regime of Martial Law,” citizens' rights would be affected. In particular, the bill talks about a "ban on carrying out referendums, rallies and mass gatherings."

It also says that the Ukrainian Constitution cannot be changed during the period and any elections  including presidential, parliamentary or even elections in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea cannot be carried out. Ukraine's presidential and parliamentary elections – scheduled for March 31 and October 27 respectively fall outside of the presumed 60-day period. However, to stick to the March 31 election date, Ukrainian parliament would need to officially declare the start of the election campaign no longer than 100 days prior to it, which in this case would mean no later than December 21. So if martial law is indeed declared on November 26, the 2019 presidential elections could be affected as the start of the political campaign would have to be postponed.

Ukrainian reformist lawmaker Mustafa Nayyem also spoke about the potential consequences martial law could have on the elections. In a comment to Hromadske, he said that the introduction of martial law could result in the postponement of the March 2019 elections in Ukraine and it might be strange to announce an election campaign while martial law is in place.

According to Hromadske’s political correspondent Maksym Kamenev, so far most of the president’s initiatives have been supported by the parliament.

READ MORE: Azov Sea Conflict: Russia Fires on Ukrainian Ship, Ukraine Retaliates