A Ukrainian diplomatic official has released video of himself punching a Russian official on Thursday. In the rare moment, rival delegations who were attending a meeting of Black Sea nations in Turkey literally came to blows while the war in Ukraine rages.
Oleksandr Marikovski posted the video, which has since gone viral. It shows a scuffle over display of a Ukrainian flag in a hallway of the parliament building in Ankara. "A Ukrainian delegate has punched a Russian delegate in the face during a meeting of Black Sea nations after his Ukrainian flag was snatched away to stop him from photobombing a video interview," Al Jazeera comments of the scene. Watch:
Tensions had already been high at the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC) assembly, given that earlier in the day Ukrainian delegates staged a protest in an attempt to disrupt a Russian delegate's address to fellow representatives.
Video of that prior incident showed mayhem breaking out on the assembly floor as security guards restrained the Ukrainian officials and attempted to impose order.
Watch the prior disruption on the assembly floor:
A scuffle broke out between Ukrainian and Russian delegates at a meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) in Türkiye’s capital Ankara— ANADOLU AGENCY (@anadoluagency) May 4, 2023
Tensions boiled over after Ukrainians interrupted a Russian official’s speech👇 pic.twitter.com/AzZiQi2B6L
Host country Turkey condemned the scenes, with parliament’s head Mustafa Sentop issuing a firm rebuke. "I condemn this behavior that disrupts the peaceful environment that Turkey is trying to establish," he said.
Given that Russia in many international venues has been isolated and essentially 'de-platformed' - it's somewhat rare for Ukrainian and Russian officials to come into direct contact these days. Turkey, however, has been more willing to attempt to get the two sides together, also as it tries to salvage the UN-backed grain deal.