Members of the Ukrainian Navy’s small and volunteer crew lay a wreath at the monument to the fallen during a memorial service on the site of the Lybian missile strikes of May 11.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko traveled to the port city of Odessa on Tuesday to meet his military chiefs as part of a trip aimed at boosting his government’s military capabilities amid a fresh round of tensions with Russia.
Poroshenko also visited a Ukrainian air base in the east of the country.
He stressed to his military personnel, joined by the country’s defense minister and others, the importance of the need to beef up the Ukrainian Navy, according to a report on the government news site.
Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman in turn said in a statement that the government will, “pursue to upgrade the Ukrainian navy to restore the country’s territorial integrity and will also strengthen military resistance.”
Odessa, a key port city located in the Black Sea, has had trouble defending itself amid what was once a war between Russia and Ukraine over eastern Ukraine. The two sides have fought since 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea in March of that year and started sending a military force into the Crimea region of Ukraine.
Amid the growing tensions, Ukraine announced that it would award a $450 million contract to South Korea’s Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. to build 10 patrol ships. The deal is expected to be signed during Poroshenko’s visit to the South Korean capital Seoul on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Ukraine’s government said it would launch a $143 million plan to buy state-of-the-art anti-ship missile systems from the Czech Republic.
Naval analyst Alexander Izosimov told the news site Ukrainskaya Pravda that Ukraine might be increasingly reluctant to engage in naval operations or reclaim land that was taken from it after a brief war with Russia in the 1990s because of the associated risks. He said the new missiles provide such targets.
Ukraine has faced mounting pressure from its Western allies not to take unilateral actions that will inflame relations with Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has vowed to defend the “near abroad” of the nation. In the past year, Russia has moved thousands of troops to the western edge of Ukraine and annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea, established a naval base in the port city of Sevastopol, and supported pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.
The West has imposed sanctions on Russia for the actions. Russia has retaliated with a variety of measures, including restricting imports of a wide range of goods from the West.
Amid the escalating tensions between the two neighbors, Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of fomenting the crisis.
Last year, Ukraine accused Russia of using 20,000 troops to stage a cross-border incursion into the eastern part of the country. While Kiev says it has lost 30,000 citizens during the conflict, Moscow denies the charge.
The Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of fomenting a humanitarian crisis by delivering millions of tons of goods across the border to the separatists. The separatists have denied that.
Ukraine’s government says the insurgents have received help from Russia to prepare and bring down Buk missile systems. Kiev accuses Russia of deploying the Buk missile systems in a rebel-held region of eastern Ukraine in the days after a Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in the eastern part of the country in July 2014.
Moscow has suggested that Ukraine’s forces could have been to blame for the disaster.
The U.S. government has accused Russia of trying to supply rebel forces with sophisticated weaponry. Moscow has also shot down two Ukrainian fighter jets in the air over eastern Ukraine in the past few months.
With bureau contributed by The Associated Press.