March 4, 2014
Vladimir Putin ordered tens of thousands of Russian troops participating in military exercises near Ukraine’s border to return to their bases as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was on his way to Kiev. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow fired warning shots at protesting Ukrainian soldiers. It was not clear if Putin’s move was an attempt to heed the West’s call to de-escalate the crisis that has put Ukraine’s future on the line. It came as Kerry was on his way to Kiev to meet with the new Ukrainian leadership that deposed a pro-Russian president, and has accused Moscow of a military invasion.
The Kremlin, which does not recognize the new Ukrainian leadership, insists it made the move in order to protest millions of Russians living there. On Tuesday, pro-Russian troops who had taken control of the Belbek air base in the Crimea region fired warning shots into the air as around 300 Ukrainian soldiers, who previously manned the airfield, demanded their jobs back. About a dozen Russian soldiers at the base warned the Ukrainians, who were marching unarmed, not to approach. They fired several warning shots into the air and said they would shoot the Ukrainians if they continued to march toward them.
Source = NPR
March 3, 2014
Japan joined the United States and other allies Monday in ramping up the pressure on Moscow after its decision to send troops into Ukraine. Russia’s parliament Saturday voted to allow President Vladimir Putin to send forces into the ex-Soviet state, a move Japan’s foreign ministry said “heightens the tension in the region and would harm the peace and stability of the international community”. “In this regard, Japan expresses grave anxiety and concern over the decision,” the ministry said in a statement. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urged caution at a meeting of government and ruling party leaders, according to media reports.
“We strongly urge the countries concerned to act cautiously with self-restraint and responsibility, to fully observe the relevant international laws and to respect the integrity of sovereignty and territory on the part of Ukraine. “Our country hopes that the situation in Ukraine will be settled in a peaceful manner,” he said. The Japanese comments came as leaders of the G7 condemned Russia’s “clear violation” of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Japan is a member of the grouping.
Source = Japan Today