Russia sends troops to Crimea, Ukraine on brink of war
Russia mobilized troops to Crimea in southeastern Ukraine on Saturday, an “act of aggression” condemned by the interim government in Kyiv, the United States, the European Union, and NATO.
The Russian Parliament yesterday approved President Vladimir Putin’s request for the deployment of troops to Ukraine “until the normalization of the political situation in the country”.
According to Russian news agency ITAR-TASS, Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel today that the deployment was justified due to the “growing threats of violence on the part of ultranationalist forces in Ukraine, which endanger the lives and legal interests of Russian citizens and the entire Russian-speaking population of Ukraine.”
In a statement issued Saturday, Crimea’s Prime Minister Serhiy Aksionov appealed to Putin to “provide assistance in ensuring peace” in the Black Sea peninsula where the Russian naval fleet is stationed. Airports and public buildings in Crimea have been blocked by unidentified armed men, presumably Russian forces.
The move by Russia was taken a week after former President Viktor Yanukovych, who supports closer ties with Russia, fled Kyiv and was impeached by the Parliament for allegedly ordering the killing of dozens of EuroMaidan protesters.
Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov called Russia’s actions “blatant aggression” and accused Putin of trying to provoke Ukraine into starting a military conflict.
“According to our intelligence, they are following a scenario that is fully identical to the Abkhaz one, when, by provoking a conflict, they started the annexation of the territories,” said Turchynov, referring to Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008. “We are sure that Ukraine will preserve its territory, Ukraine will defend its independence, and any annexation or intervention attempts will have very serious implications.”
He called on Russia to withdraw its troops from Crimea.
Obama warns Russia against military intervention in Ukraine
“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine. Russia has a historic relationship with Ukraine, including cultural and economic ties, and a military facility in Crimea, but any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia, or Europe,” said U.S. President Barack Obama. “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”
Secretary of State John Kerry said that the U.S. is prepared to impose visa bans and asset freezes against Russia as well as boycotting the upcoming G-8 Summit in Sochi.
Kerry also said that many U.S. allies are prepared to impose sanctions against Russia.
“I talked to ten of the foreign ministers of those countries most engaged – the G-8 plus some others. And all of them, every single one of them, are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia with respect to this invasion. They’re prepared to put sanctions in place. They’re prepared to isolate Russia economically,” Kerry told CBS News. “The ruble is already going down. Russia has major economic challenges. I can’t imagine that an occupation of another country is something that appeals to people who are trying to reach out to the world. And particularly if it involves violence, I think they’re going to be inviting major difficulties for the long term.”
Kerry called on Congress to approve an economic – and possibly military – aid package to Ukraine as soon as possible.
NATO condemns Russia’s “military escalation” in Crimea
“The North Atlantic Council condemns the Russian Federation’s military escalation in Crimea and expresses its grave concern regarding the authorization by the Russian Parliament to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine,” according to a statement issued by NATO. “NATO Allies will continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, and the right of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future, without outside interference.”
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- WhiteHouse.gov: The President Delivers a Statement on Ukraine – Feb. 28, 2014
- WhiteHouse.gov: Readout of the Vice President’s Call with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
- WhiteHouse.gov: Readout of President Obama’s Call with President Putin
- NATO.int: North Atlantic Council statement on the situation in Ukraine
- UN.org: As Security Council holds urgent talks, UN officials urge dialogue to resolve Ukraine crisis
- State.gov: Interview With Bob Schieffer of CBS’s Face The Nation – March 2, 2014
- State.gov: Interview With George Stephanopoulos of ABC’s This Week – March 2, 2014
- State.gov: Interview With David Gregory of NBC’s Meet the Press – March 2, 2014
- Interfax Ukraine: Ukrainian interim President Turchynov accuses Russia of military aggression
- Interfax Ukraine: Ukrainian PM Yatseniuk urges Russia to return troops in Crimea to bases
- Interfax Ukraine: Crimean PM puts all security, law enforcement agencies under his personal control
- ITAR-TASS: Putin: Russia’s measures in respect of Ukraine congruent to extraordinary situation
- ITAR-TASS: Ukrainian Naval Forces commander pledges allegiances to people of Crimea
- ITAR-TASS: Crimean parliament speaker calls on people to support state independence at referendum
- BBC News: Russian parliament approves troop deployment in Ukraine
- Kyiv Post: Defiant Yanukovych says he didn’t run anywhere, didn’t give any order to shoot people (VIDEO)