MOSCOW — Ukraine’s president signed off Wednesday on orders for limited martial law amid a showdown with Moscow over the seizure of Ukrainian naval vessels and crew, but the next moves by Kiev appeared caught up in internal political wrangling.

The crisis – triggered Sunday by the maritime clash in the Black Sea – has brought widespread denunciations of Russia and calls by some leaders in Europe for deeper sanctions on Moscow.

But the political fortunes of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have become part of the tensions. The deeply unpopular Poroshenko faces an election next year, and some critics – especially Russian President Vladimir Putin – question whether he is trying use the standoff as a way boost his standing.

The martial-law process suggests how political concerns have spilled over into Ukraine’s response to Russia.

Lawmakers and government leaders haggled over the length of the martial law – cutting down Poroshenko’s original 60-day proposal to 30 days to prevent possible interference in elections March 31.

Earlier Wednesday, Ukraine passed a resolution to schedule next year’s vote as previously planned, seeking to cement a promise Poroshenko had made to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg when appealing for assistance.

“Poroshenko wants to get a head start in his election campaign,” said Maxim Eristavi, a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council. “He is playing the card of commander in chief, flying around in military uniform trying to project that he is the one in control.”

Still, it was unclear when the martial law would take effect in 10 of Ukraine’s 27 regions, where the country has a sea or land border with Russia.

By law, the order must be published by the Ukrainian government’s newspaper, which could happen Thursday.

It would mark the first time Ukraine has imposed martial law in its ongoing conflict with Russia, which began in 2014 when Moscow annexed Crimea and supported pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine. More than 10,300 people have been killed in the fight against militias in the breakaway regions.

“People wanted martial law four years ago, and Poroshenko was against it,” said John Herbst, who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine from 2003 to 2006.

In Moscow, Putin took direct aim at Poroshenko, claiming he is trying to find some political gain.

“The incident in the Black Sea was a provocation organized by the authorities and maybe the president himself,” Putin said.