Ukraine: Archive 3

Last Updated September 18, 2016

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Global Post

Russia would attack Russians to justify war in Ukraine, ex-Putin aide alleges

March 6, 2014

BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. — “Right now, Russian special forces from the 22nd Brigade are in Ukraine, and we should expect staged attacks on Russian soldiers and citizens.” Andrei Illarionov doesn’t mince words. For the past few days, the senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank in Washington, DC, has been telling anyone who would listen that Russian President Vladimir Putin is intent on an all-out war with Ukraine and isn’t all that fussy about how he gets there. In a telephone interview with GlobalPost this week, the 52-year-old Illarionov, who until 2005 was a key economic adviser to the Russian president, sounded the alarm about his former boss. “[Putin] wants to overthrow the government [in Kyiv] and start a civil war,” he said. “Why not? The reality is that Obama and the rest of the world will do nothing.”

While the international community shakes its collective head disapprovingly and talks about sanctions, Illarionov insists that the benefits of invading Ukraine far outweigh the risks for Putin. The Russian president is alarmed at events in neighboring Ukraine, where a wave of protests toppled the Moscow-friendly elected president and installed a more Westward-looking leader. Analysts say Putin is determined, at all costs, to bring Ukraine back into Moscow’s orbit and, in the process, return the sunny Crimean peninsula — a traditional Russian elite playground the Soviets gifted to Ukraine in 1954 — back to Russia. “He will have done what nobody else could do: He brought Crimea back,” Illarionov said. “The Russian people will be grateful. Putin will be in power forever.” According to Russia’s Constitution, there’s no limit on the total number of years a president can serve. A leader is barred from more than two consecutive terms, which explains why Putin and his prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, switched jobs for four years in 2008.

Putin is now in his third term, and, at a fairly vigorous 61, shows few signs of slowing down. So be prepared for some very dark days, Illarionov says. The former Kremlin insider will not divulge the source of his information about the “spetsnaz,” or special forces, that he says are looking to stage provocations against Russians, but he is convinced that something is in the works. Putin and his team will resort to what the former presidential aide said are the Kremlin’s tried-and-true methods: provocation, violence, and outright lies.

“Look at what has been done before,” Illarionov said. “Think back to Mainila, in 1939.”

Illarionov was referring to a border incident that resulted in the Soviet invasion of Finland, just weeks after the start of World War II. Soviet leader Josef Stalin wanted to annex Finnish territory to protect sensitive Soviet areas, specifically Leningrad, which was situated a mere 25 miles from the border.

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Source = Global News

bbc

Ukraine crisis: ‘Illegal’ Crimean referendum condemned

March 6, 2014

The EU and US have joined Ukraine’s government in condemning as “illegal” a move by the Crimea region to set up a referendum to endorse joining Russia. The EU, meeting in Brussels, threatened “serious consequences” if Russia did not act to de-escalate the crisis. Crimean MPs earlier set a date of 16 March for a vote on the referendum. Russian troops took de facto control of Crimea, whose population is mostly ethnic Russian, in the wake of the fall of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president. The Crimean parliament on Thursday said it had decided “to enter into the Russian Federation with the rights of a subject of the Russian Federation”. It said it had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin “to start the procedure”. US President Barack Obama urged President Putin to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine, when he spoke to the Russian leader by telephone for an hour. President Obama stressed that Russia’s actions were a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty, a White House statement said.

For his part, Mr Putin said that US-Russian “relations should not be sacrificed due to disagreements over individual, albeit extremely significant, international problems,” the Kremlin said. It was the two leaders’ second telephone call concerning Ukraine in less than a week. ‘Highly precarious’ Before the Brussels summit, some EU members – led by Germany – had indicated they preferred mediation with Russia to try to solve the crisis, rather than any stronger measures. But correspondents say the Crimean MPs’ move has clearly toughened the line taken by the EU. In press conferences after the talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy both said the Crimean referendum was contrary to the Ukrainian constitution and therefore illegal. The EU said it was suspending talks with Moscow on easing travel restrictions on Russians entering the EU. It said that if Russia did not move to de-escalate the situation quickly, it would “decide on additional measures, such as travel bans, asset freezes and the cancellation of the EU-Russia summit”.

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Source = BBC News

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Kyiv Post

Armed pro-Russian militiamen force UN envoy to cut Crimea trip short

March 5, 2014

United Nations peace envoy Robert Serry had to cut short his visit to Crimea after a group of armed pro-Russian militiamen blocked him and threatened in his car in Simferopol, capital city of the peninsula on March 5. Serry, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, arrived to Ukraine on March 5 after he was asked by UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson the day before “to travel to Crimea to take stock and evaluate the situation there.”  Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry initially said that Serry was kidnapped in Simferopol.  “Serry has just informed us that his car in Simferopol was blocked by unknown people in uniforms and they told him they were under orders to take him to the airport.

He refused to go and was seized and is effectivey being held by a group of unknown people as a hostage,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Yevhen Perebyinis said. But later James Mates, editor for ITV news wrote on his twitter that Serry, whose car has been blocked by “protesters chanting Putin, Putin!” went to a coffee shop and stayed there for awhile. Then the envoy agreed to end his mission in Crimea and go to the airport. “Very unpleasant incident over. Robert Serry said very happy to leave Crimea if it helped de escalate the situation,” Mates wrote on his twitter.  The press service of Border Service also reported about the missing of head of the State Border Service, Colonel General Kovalev in Yalta.

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Source = Kyiv Post

Russia Beyond the Headlines

A game of Ukrainian roulette

March 6, 2014

On March 5, Russian President Vladimir Putin met with the press for the first time since the political crisis in Ukraine began. The president appeared completely calm, absolutely convinced he has acted justly, and ready to continue his current strategy regarding Ukraine. At least this was the tone of Putin’s statements, which were intended to cool hot heads – particularly in the Western capitals, where there has been talk of sanctions against Russia – and the financial markets, where a mass sell-off of Russian securities took place on Monday. However, in speaking about the future of Ukraine, at least some of Putin’s words had the opposite effect. Putin seemed to imply that Russia is not inclined to recognize the territorial integrity of Ukraine. When we point out that it is an unconstitutional coup (in Ukraine), we are told that no, it’s not an armed seizure of power, it is a revolution.

So if it is a revolution, then it is difficult for me to disagree with some of our experts, who say that a new state has appeared on this territory,” Interfax quoted Putin as saying. “And we have not signed any binding documents either with this state or regarding this state,” Putin said.  He drew an analogy with the events of 1917 in Russia, when the Russian empire broke up due to the revolution, and a new state was formed. These last comments were in reference to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which Russia, the United States and the UK pledged to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine in the event that Ukraine gave up their Soviet-era nuclear weapons and remained a non-nuclear state – but the document was not ratified by Moscow, London or Washington. Putin’s statements can be seen not only as a willingness to recognize the independence of Crimea, which will most likely be voted on by the peninsula’s inhabitants in a March 30 referendum, but also as a willingness to recognize similar referendums in other regions of eastern Ukraine – and he made a point of showing the West that such a course of action is not unprecedented.

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Source = Russia Beyond The Headlines

RT

Kiev snipers hired by Maidan leaders – leaked EU’s Ashton phone tape

March 5, 2014

“There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” Urmas Paet said during the conversation.

“I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh,” Ashton answered.

The snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders, according to a leaked phone conversation between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign affairs minister, which has emerged online.

“And second, what was quite disturbing, this same Olga [Bogomolets] told as well that all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides,” the Estonian FM stressed.

Ashton reacted to the information by saying: “Well, yeah…that’s, that’s terrible.”

“So that she then also showed me some photos she said that as a medical doctor she can say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened,” Paet said.

Olga Bogomolets was the main doctor for the Maidan mobile clinic when protests turned violent in Kiev. She treated the gravely injured and helped organized their transportation to neighboring countries, who had expressed a willingness to treat those with severe wounds. From the outset, Olga blamed the injuries and deaths on snipers. She turned down the position of Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine for Humanitarian Affairs offered by the coup-appointed regime.

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Source = Russia Today

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Deep divisions split Donetsk as tensions simmer across Ukraine

March 5, 2014

Inside the occupied government building, teenagers strolled through the regional council chamber and took selfies in the speaker’s chair, now flanked by the flags of Russia and the Soviet-era independent republic of Donetsk. Riot policemen with shields and helmets lined the corridors, but they seemed in no particular hurry to remove the pro-Russian activists who had burst into the 11-storey building a day before and appointed their own “people’s governor”. “We will not leave until our demands are met,” said Olexsander, aged 42, a self-appointed commander in the “local resistance” camped out in the council chamber. “Donetsk belongs with Russia,” he said. Pro-Russian groups have called on local deputies to declare the government in Kiev illegitimate, to put all security forces under regional control and to withhold taxes from the capital. They also want a referendum on the region’s future status – although they have yet to agree on the question to be asked, and the new government in Kiev has said that any such vote would be illegal.

But while the Russian tricolour still fluttered over the parliament building on Tuesday night, hundreds of protesters gathered in the square outside, waving the blue and yellow flag of Ukraine, and calling for the country to come together in unity. In the wake of Russia’s armed intervention in Crimea, tensions are simmering across the Russian-speaking provinces of eastern Ukraine. Reports that Russian military vehicles had gathered on Ukraine’s border near Kharkiv, Donetsk and Luhansk have triggered rumours that the Kremlin is preparing to pull another intervention in Ukraine’s eastern regions. Kiev says Moscow has organised the demonstrations and sent hundreds of Russian citizens across the frontier to stage protests which would provide the pretext for a military advance – a charge which was vehemently denied by protestors in the Donetsk parliament. “I can tell you from my heart this is absolutely not true. The people here are only locals,” said Olexsander. Large pro-Russian demonstrations have been held in Odessa, Kharkiv and Donetsk, and Russian flags raised atop administrative buildings. The Kharkiv protests descended into violence when counter-demonstrators calling for Ukrainian unity were badly beaten by Russian nationalists. The deep divisions in Donetsk – the home town of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych – were acted out over the course of the day in a series of rival protests for and against Ukrainian unity.

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Source = Guardian

Reuters

Ukraine raises flag over Donetsk government building

March 5, 2014

“On Tuesday evening around 1,500 demonstrators marched in Donetsk waving Ukrainian flags and opposing Russian military intervention, the first time that pro-Kiev protesters outnumbered pro-Russian demonstrators in the city.”

(Reuters) – Ukraine raised its flag on Wednesday over the government headquarters in Donetsk where a Russian flag had stood for five days, witnesses said, an important signal of shifting control in the Russian-speaking east. Police said they were evacuating the building, which has been occupied since Monday by pro-Russian demonstrators. A police statement said the evacuation began after reports that the building was booby-trapped with explosives. Donetsk, home city of deposed president Viktor Yanukovich, has seen the most persistent pro-Russian demonstrations since protests erupted in eastern and southern cities on Saturday just as Russian President Vladimir Putin was declaring his right to invade.

Russian forces already have control of the southern Crimea region but have not entered other parts of Ukraine. The main concern of NATO officials meeting Russian counterparts in Brussels on Wednesday is Putin’s threat to launch a wider invasion to protect Russians across Ukraine’s east and south. The pro-Moscow activists in Donetsk, led by a local businessman named Pavel Gubarev who declared himself “people’s governor”, have been holed up in the regional administration building. They have demanded relations with Kiev be severed and control over the police and security forces be placed in Gubarev’s hands. Kiev accuses Moscow of organising the marches to create an excuse for military intervention, busing Russians across the border to protest. Some of Gubarev’s followers are clearly outsiders who speak Russian without the distinctive local accent, although others appear to be from the area.

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Source = Reuters

NBC News

Ukraine Raises Flag in Donetsk, Ends Pro-Moscow Building Siege

March 5, 2014

Ukraine ejected pro-Moscow demonstrators on Wednesday from a regional government building and raised its flag where Russia’s had flown since the weekend, signaling an important shift of control in the Russian-speaking east. The Donetsk administrative headquarters had been held since Monday by activists who burst in chanting “Putin come!” and demanded control over the regional police force and the end of ties with Kiev. Police said they evacuated it peacefully after receiving reports it was booby-trapped with explosives. By midday on Wednesday, Ukraine’s blue and yellow flag had replaced the Russian tricolor atop the 11-story building, but another Russian flag was still flying from a flagpole in front. A large force of police was guarding the building with helmets and shields. Sniffer dogs had been brought to search it. Around 200 pro-Moscow demonstrators were still clustered by tents in front of the building, where biscuits and tea were served from a cart. Their leader, burly local businessman Pavel Gubarev who has declared himself “people’s governor”, called the evacuation a “provocation” and vowed to re-enter the building.

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Source = NBC News

bbc

Top diplomats seek Ukraine solution in Paris talks

March 5, 2014

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has held talks with counterparts from the US and key EU states to try to resolve the crisis in Ukraine. After the talks Mr Lavrov said it was agreed to continue discussions in the coming days but admitted that everyone was “concerned” at events. The US suggested that there was no agreement yet. Secretary of State John Kerry is to issue a statement shortly. The EU earlier offered 11bn euros ($15bn; £9bn) of aid to Ukraine. European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the package of loans and grants over the next couple of years was “designed to assist a committed, inclusive and reforms-oriented government” in Kiev. Ukraine’s finance ministry has predicted it needs $35bn to rescue the economy. The EU also froze the assets of 18 Ukrainians, accused of involvement in a deadly crackdown on protesters.

In other developments:

  • Hundreds of pro-Russian demonstrators have stormed the regional government building in Donetsk for the second time in recent days
  • Gunmen in Crimea threatened the UN secretary-general’s envoy, Robert Serry, but he is reported safe
  • Russian forces have seized two Ukrainian missile-defence sites in Crimea, according to unconfirmed reports
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel discuss crisis in telephone call

Mr Lavrov met Mr Kerry and counterparts from the UK, Germany and France on the sidelines of a long-planned conference on Lebanon in Paris. The Russian minister said it was agreed that all sides needed to respect an EU-brokered peace deal signed last month. The US state department, however, denied any agreement had been reached. The 21 February deal granted major concessions to the opposition, but pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych fled before it could be implemented. “We had a long day of discussions on Ukraine,” Mr Lavrov said.

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Source = BBC News

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npr

Putin Orders Troops To Bases, Warning Shots In Crimea

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.

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Source = NPR

JapanToday

Japan expresses concern over Russia’s Ukraine move

March 3, 2014

TOKYO — 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.

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Source = Japan Today

bbc

Ukraine’s Yanukovych asked for troops, Russia tells UN

March 4, 2014

Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych asked Russia to send troops across the border to protect civilians, Moscow’s UN envoy has claimed. Vitaly Churkin told a Security Council meeting Mr Yanukovych wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday. Thousands of Russian troops have been pouring into Ukraine’s Crimea region. Russian forces have also been holding military exercises near Ukraine’s borders, but now Mr Putin has ordered them back to base, the Kremlin says. Ukraine said Russia had set a deadline for its forces in Crimea to surrender by 03:00 GMT. So far there have been no reports of any incidents. Russia has denied issuing any ultimatum. The Kremlin has argued in favour of the intervention, which has sparked outrage and threats of economic sanctions from the US and EU.

Western ambassadors dismissed Russia’s arguments as groundless. US Secretary of State John Kerry is on his way to Kiev to meet Ukraine’s new leaders and show support for the country’s sovereignty. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s UN envoy Yuriy Sergeyev says Russia has deployed about 16,000 troops to the peninsula. Ukrainian defence sources accused Russia’s Black Sea Fleet chief Aleksander Vitko of threatening a full-scale assault if they did not surrender by dawn on Tuesday. A Russian spokesman later denied that any ultimatum had been issued.

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Source = BBC News

ABC News

No Fighting in Crimea as Supposed Ultimatum Passes

March 4, 2014

There has been no fighting in Crimea as a supposed Russian ultimatum for two Ukrainian warships to surrender passed without action from either side. Two Ukrainian warships remained anchored in the Crimean port of Sevastopol early Tuesday, a day after Ukrainian authorities claimed that Russian forces had issued an ultimatum for the ships to surrender or be seized. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Vladimir Anikin said late Monday that no ultimatum had been issued. Russian troops said to be 16,000 strong tightened their grip on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula on Monday. Russian soldiers controlled all Crimean border posts, as well as military facilities in the territory and a ferry terminal in the city of Kerch, just 20 kilometers (12 miles) across the water from Russia.

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Source = ABC News

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Ukraine Crisis: Back To Base For Russian Troops As Vladimir Putin Orders Retreat Amidst Tense UN Talks

March 4, 2014

Vladimir Putin has ordered troops participating in military exercises in western Russia near the Ukraine border to return to their permanent bases, according to reports. The Russian President’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Interfax news agency early Tuesday that the premier had ordered the troops to return to their usual stations following tense UN talks last night.

At the talks, it emerged the ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych asked Russia to send troops across the border to protect civilians and “establish legitimacy, peace, law and order,” Moscow’s UN envoy claimed. Vitaly Churkin told the Security Council’s emergency meeting Mr Yanukovych wrote to Putin on Saturday. Thousands of Russian troops have been pouring into the Crimea region and Ukraine’s UN envoy Yuriy Sergeyev said Russia has deployed about 16,000 troops to the peninsula. At the meeting, Ukraine’s ambassador sent a three-page letter to every member state, accusing Russian forces of using stun grenades against Ukrainian soldiers and trespassing in Ukrainian airspace. Ukraine yesterday claimed Russia had set a deadline for its forces in Crimea to surrender by 03:00 GMT. So far there have been no reports of any incidents, while Russia has denied issuing any such ultimatum.

The government of Ukraine should be commended “for refusing to rise to provocation” from Russia, the UK’s ambassador to the UN said last night. Mark Lyall Grant said there was “no justification” for Russian action. “The world can see that Russian military forces have taken control of the Crimean Peninsula, part of the sovereign territory of Ukraine. This action is against the expressed wishes of the legitimate Ukrainian government. “It is a clear and unambiguous violation of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and is a flagrant breach of international law. “Just as we condemn the Russian Federation for its confrontational acts, we commend the government of Ukraine for refusing to rise to provocation.” Every Security Council speaker but Russia urged a peaceful solution, with even China’s Ambassador Liu Jieyi failing to endorse Russia’s military action.

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Source = Huffington Post

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bbc

Russia demands surrender of Ukraine’s Crimea forces

March 3, 2014

Russia’s military has given Ukrainian forces in Crimea until dawn on Tuesday to surrender or face an assault, Ukrainian defence sources have said. The head of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet Aleksander Vitko set the deadline and also threatened two warships, Ukrainian officials said. However, Interfax news agency later quoted a fleet spokesman who denied that any ultimatum had been issued. Moscow has said its troops are needed in Crimea to protect civilians. The Kremlin says people in Crimea have come under threat from “ultra-nationalists” since pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted last month. Russia is now said to be in de facto control of the Crimea region.

Ukraine has ordered full mobilisation to counter the intervention. No shots have yet been fired in the region, which has a majority of Russian speakers and a largely pro-Russian local government. But the captain of one of the threatened warships told Ukrainian TV his men were prepared to fight and would not surrender. The trouble began last month when pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted following months of street protests. Russia claims its military is protecting human rights in Crimea, but Kiev, the US and Western Europe have condemned the actions. Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said earlier that any attempt to seize Crimea would fail, urging allies to give economic and political support to his government.

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Source = BBC News

Kyiv Post

Russian military issues ultimatum to Ukraine: Surrender by 5 a.m. on March 4 or face attack

March 3, 2014

March 3, 7:07 p.m. — Russian Black Sea Fleet Commander Aleksandr Vitko has delivered an ultimatum to the Ukrainian military in Crimea, Interfax-Ukraine reported, citing Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. “If by 0500 tomorrow (March 4) they do not surrender, a real assault on the units and detachments of the armed forces of Ukraine will start across Crimea,” the ministry said. Russian soldiers are are conveying this warning of the Russian Black Sea Fleet commander to Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea, the news agency reported. — Anastasia Forina

Two Ukrainian ship officials confirm Russian ultimatum to Channel 5

March 3, 6:28 p.m. — A Ukrainian naval officer, Alexei Kyrylov, confirmed to Channel 5 today that the Russian Black Sea Fleet command has issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian naval forces to surrender by 5 p.m. today. Kyrylov told the news channel that he expected an attack by 7 p.m. tonight. Kyrylov is stationed with two Ukrainian ships Ternopil and Slavutych in Sevastopol Bay. Security sources confirmed to the Kyiv Post that the Russian threat took place. — Anastasia Forina

Interior Ministry denies Russian claims of increase in refugees fleeing Ukraine

March 3, 6:12 p.m. — Ukrainian Interior Ministry spokesman Evgeniy Perebyynis said that Russian news media claims of an increase in refugees fleeing from Ukraine to Russia are false. Perebyynis also warned of the poissibility of Russian ground forces entering Ukrainian territory besides the Crimea. — Solomiya Zineyevych

Foreign minister says OSCE pledges help 

March 3, 6:10 p.m. Ukraine’s new Foreign Minister Andriy Dyschytsya said that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is ready to support Ukraine and help to protect its territory. “We use all possible sources to avoid military conflict and solve the issue diplomatically,” he said. “I applied for am waiting for the conversation with” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. —

Russian ultimatum is being broadcast via loudspeaker offshore in Crimea

March 3, 5:58 pm. Kyiv Post editor Christopher J. Miller in Crimea said that a Russian ship was circling a Ukrainian ship off the shore and yelling what appeared to be an ultimatum, repeatedly, via loudspeaker, but the words were muffled. The Ukrainians on shop are all armed, but the Russian ship was too far from the shore to see. — Brian Bonner.

Naval spokesman confirms Russian ultimatum, differs on time

March 3, 5:54 p.m. — Oleg Chubuk, a spokesman of Ukraine’s naval forces, told the Kyiv Post: “As far as I know, an ultimatum has been voiced for 6 p.m. (today) with the demand to Ukraine’s soldiers to surrender arms,” he said, adding that the time could be changed. “Ukraine’s sailors don’t yield the provocations, guns are under control.” He said that Ukrainian forces would be required to defend themselves in event of attack. — Oksana Grytsenko

Russians issued earlier ultimatum about attack, Turchynov says

March 3, 5:38 p.m. Russian military commanders have reportedly given the Ukrainian navy until 7 p.m. today to surrender and Ukrainian troops stationed on Crimea’s mainland until 5 a.m. tomorrow — or else they face attack. But the threats could be part of the war of nerves designed to rattle Ukraine. The nation’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov said that Russia gave Ukraine a similar ultimatum two days earlier, with the deadline of 5 a.m. on March 2. “They didn’t start storming the bases on 5 a.m., but the situation is still tense there,” he said earlier. —

Ukrainian officials: Russians planning provocations in Crimea to justify war

March 3, 5:22 p.m. — Deputy Ukrainian Interior Minister Mykola Velykovych issues a warning that Russia is preparing violent provocations to justify using military force. “There is a provocation expected in Crimea. Unknown persons pretending to be the Ukrainian side plan to kill three or four Russian soldiers to legitimize bringing Russian troops to the territory of Ukraine. We would like these people to come to their senses because this way you provoke a bloodshed, which has not happened in Crimea. This is why it’s very important for you to understand that people’s lives are the highest value, and thus we urge you to come to your senses, we urge you to stop and remember that the situation is being monitored, the situation is controlled, we follow up on it and all guilty persons involved will be punished.” –– Katya Gorchinskaya

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Source = Kyiv Post

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Ukraine crisis: Western leaders scramble to respond to Russian incursion

March 2, 2014

Western leaders on Sunday scrambled to defuse the crisis in Ukraine, as the nation’s new government placed its military on “high alert” after more than 6,000 Russian forces poured into the Crimean Peninsula. The response was seen in phone calls between world leaders, statements of protest and threats of diplomatic and economic pressure against Russia. The Group of Seven nations  — including the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Britain — said Sunday night that they’re suspending participation in the upcoming economic summit scheduled to be held in Sochi, the recent site of the Winter Olympics, in protest of Russia’s actions.  “We call on Russia to address any ongoing security or human rights concerns that it has with Ukraine through direct negotiations, and/or via international observation or mediation under the auspices of the UN or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe,” the G-7 said in a statement released by the White House.

Earlier Sunday, President Obama spoke with British Prime Minister David Cameron, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the four leaders expressed their “grave concern” over “Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the White House said. The leaders pledged to work together on a package of financial assistance to Ukraine, which is nearly bankrupt. Also on Sunday, Secretary of State John Kerry said he would be visiting Kiev on Tuesday in a show of support for the nation’s new government, as he blasted Russia’s actions as part of “a stunning, willful” choice to invade another country.

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Source = Fox News

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Russia And China ‘In Agreement’ Over Ukraine

March 3, 2014

Russia has said China is largely “in agreement” over Ukraine, after other world powers condemned Moscow for sending troops into the country. Hundreds of Russian soldiers have surrounded a military base in Crimea, preventing Ukrainian soldiers from going in or out. The convoy blockading the site, near the Crimean capital Simferopol, includes at least 17 military vehicles. Russian troops are also reported to have taken control of a ferry terminal in the city of Kerch on the eastern tip of Crimea, which has a majority Russian-speaking population. Ukraine’s defence ministry said two Russian fighter jets violated the country’s air space in the Black Sea on Sunday night and that it had scrambled an interceptor aircraft to prevent the “provocative actions”. And reports claimed pro-Russian protesters had occupied a floor of the regional government building in Donetsk. The 11-storey building has been flying the Russian flag for the last three days.

Ukrainian prime minister Arseny Yatseniuk has insisted his country “will never give up Crimea to anyone” and urged Russian forces to withdraw. Mr Yatseniuk said: “I was and am a supporter of a diplomatic solution to the crisis, as a conflict would destroy the foundations for stability in the whole region.”  In an interview with Sky News, Foreign Secretary William Hague said the crisis is likely to take some time to resolve. He said: “I think we probably are looking at a long period of very active diplomacy and looking for solutions to this since there is no sign of a change in the Russian position on this. “It’s impossible to be optimistic at the moment. We’re not in any position to be optimistic about the security situation and what is happening in the Crimea.” The crisis has had a huge knock-on effect on global stock markets, with Moscow’s stock exchange plunging as much as 10% on Monday morning. Russia’s central bank raised its rate to 7% from 5.5% as the ruble hit an historic low against the dollar and the euro. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Ukraine by telephone with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, on Monday, and claimed they had “broadly coinciding points of view” on the situation there, according to a ministry statement.

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Source = Sky News

telegraph

Ukraine crisis live: EU threatens sanctions against Russia and condemns ‘act of agression’

March 3, 2014

18.04 According to Reuters the US has said it would hold Russia directly responsible if it has threatened the use of force against the Ukrainian military. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said:

“These reports today of threats of force against Ukrainian military installations would, if true, in our view constitute a dangerous escalation of the situation for which we would hold Russia directly responsible.

17.58 BREAKING Our man in Brussels Bruno Waterfield says that the EU has threatened sanctions against Russia:

The EU has condemned the Russian “act of aggression” against Ukraine and threatened sanctions unless Russia take “de-escalating steps” and returns troops to barracks ahead of an emergency summit of European leaders in Brussels on Thursday.

EU foreign ministers have held the door of diplomacy open to Moscow but given Russia an ultimatum to back off with the threat of “future targeted measures”.

17.52 Russian troops pictured with armoured personel carriers and mechanical diggers at Chongar, the North East entry point to Crimea:

17.49 According to Reuters US Vice President Joe Biden warned Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during a phone call of “increasing political and economic isolation” if Russia does not pull back its forces from Ukraine.

“The vice president made clear that if the situation in Ukraine is not resolved, Russia will face increasing political and economic isolation,” a White House official said.

17.45 Ukrainian seamen are pictured standing guard on the Ukrainian navy ship Slavutich at Sevastopol harbor, as Russia deny they issued an ultimatum to Ukraine:

17.37 Joe Conlan, a trader from energy consultancy firm Inenco, explains why gas prices could be threatened by the Ukraine crisis:

“While the UK does not directly import gas from Russia, we receive it through secondary imports, such as Russian exports of gas to Germany, and we import via pipelines from Belgium and Holland.

“If the conflict persists, then sanctions are likely to be placed on Russia. These sanctions could include sanctions on gas exports, which would place considerable strain on the UK, France and Germany.”

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Source = The Telegraph

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telegraph

Ukraine live: President of Ukraine puts troops on combat alert as UN holds emergency meeting

March 1, 2014

All times in GMT

19.33 UKRAINE’S PRIME MINISTER SAYS MILITARY INTERVENTION WOULD LEAD TO WAR AND END TO ANY RELATIONS WITH MOSCOW. UKRAINE’S PRIME MINISTER SAYS RUSSIAN FORCES MUST RETURN TO BASE

19.23 AFP – Ukraine’s army put on alert: interim president

19.21 UKRAINE’S ACTING PRESIDENT SAYS NO BASIS FOR RUSSIA’S ACT OF AGGRESSION AGAINST UKRAINE

19.00 The reaction to Putin’s approval for military action is coming thick and fast now.

From the EU – Catherine Ashton, foreign policy chief, says the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine must be respected.

From Nato – Anders Fogh Rasmussen says Russia must respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, including with regard to troop movements.

From UN – Ban ki-Moon says he is “gravely concerned” and will talk to Putin shortly

From the Czech republic – Milos Zeman, the president, recalled 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and warned against creating “a deep ditch which cannot be filled for a generation.”

From the UK – David Cameron told Moscow there is “no excuse” for military intervention in Ukraine as he reiterated warnings that the “world is watching”.

From France – Francois Hollande urges the avoidance of “a highly dangerous escalation.”

From Germany – Angela Merkel said what is happening in Crimea was cause for concern.

18.59 ACTING UKRAINIAN PRESISDENT SAYS RUSSIA WANTS FULL DESTABILISATION OF SITUATION IN UKRAINE – PARLIAMENTARY WEBSITE

18.58 RUSSIAN PARLAIMENTARY SPEAKER TELLS UKRAINE’S LEADER MOSCOW COULD RESPOND MILITARILY IF UKRAINE USES FORCE AGAINST PEACEFUL CITIZENS IN EAST AND CRIMEA – URKAINE PARLIAMENT WEBSITE

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Source = The Telegraph

Kyiv Post

Russian armed forces seize Crimea as Putin threatens wider military invasion of Ukraine

March 1, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin is poised to invade Ukraine with military forces after winning unanimous approval for taking such a step from the notoriously rubber-stamp upper house of parliament.  Members of the Russian Federation Council said that the troops are needed to protect the safety of millions of ethnic Russians in Ukraine and that the soldiers should stay until “the constitutional order is restored in Ukraine,” which hints at a possible Russian attempt to return to power Viktor Yanukovych, ousted as Ukraine’s president on Feb. 22, or install another Kremlin-friendly leader.  Despite the strong Kremlin rhetoric, there is no evidence that ethnic Russians are in any danger in Ukraine more than anybody else.

Federation Council members heaped scorn on the EuroMaidan Revolution that ousted Yanukovych, condemning the activists as fascists, anti-Semites and neo-Nazis, and said that the Western-financed Ukrainian uprising needed to be stopped before it spread to Russia. There was, of course, no mention among Moscow officials of Yanukovych’s alleged complicity in the deaths of nearly 100 EuroMaidan protesters in the last month as well as his administration’s increasingly well-documented corrupt rule. Putin’s request was worded this way: “Due to the extraordinary situation that has taken shape in Ukraine and the threat to the lives of citizens of the Russian Federation, our compatriots, and the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation who are deployed on the territory of Ukraine (the Autonomous Republic of Crimea) under an international treaty, I hereby introduce, under Clause (g) of Part 1 of Article 2012 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, an appeal for the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine pending the normalization of the social and political situation in that country.”

Putin’s request, however, comes after the fact. Russian soldiers already were systematically taking charge of strategic locations on Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula on March 1, with estimates of the number of troops or Russian-backed armed forces already on Ukrainian soil ranging from 6,000 and 28,000. The takeover came as the Crimea’s new pro-Russian prime minister, Sergei Aksenov, called for a referendum on March 30 to allow voters in the 2.2 million-population region to decide whether they want to remain in Ukraine, join Russia or form an independent state.  However, Ukrainian government officials in Kyiv questioned the legitimacy of Aksenov’s appointment and called a referendum on separatism illegal. Meanwhile, Russian officials and ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, deposed on Feb. 22, are questioning the legitimacy of the new Ukrainian government. The debate in the Russian Federation Council, which looked set to unanimously vote for the invasion of Ukraine by Russian military troops, is broadcast live on Russia Today, a Kremlin-funded TV station.

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Source = Kyiv Post

ABC News

Russian Troops Take Over Ukraine’s Crimea Region

March 1, 2014

Russian troops took over Crimea as the parliament in Moscow gave President Vladimir Putin a green light Saturday to use the military to protect Russian interests in Ukraine. The newly installed government in Kiev was powerless to react to the action by Russian troops based in the strategic region and more flown in, aided by pro-Russian Ukrainian groups. Putin sought and quickly got his parliament’s approval to use its military to protect Russia’s interests across Ukraine. But while sometimes-violent pro-Russian protests broke out Saturday in a number of Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine, Moscow’s immediate focus appeared to be Crimea. Ignoring President Barack Obama’s warning Friday that “there will be costs” if Russia intervenes militarily, Putin sharply raised the stakes in the conflict over Ukraine’s future evoking memories of Cold War brinkmanship.

“Russia and the West find themselves on the brink of a confrontation far worse than in 2008 over Georgia,” Dmitri Trenin, the director of Carnegie Moscow Center, said in a commentary posted on its website. In Georgia, the Russian troops quickly routed the Georgian military after they tried to regain control over the separatist province of South Ossetia that has close ties with Moscow. The latest moves followed days of scripted, bloodless turmoil on the peninsula, the scene of centuries of wars and seen by Moscow as a crown jewel of the Russian and Soviet empires. What began Thursday with the early-morning takeover of the regional parliament building by mysterious troops continued Saturday afternoon as dozens of those soldiers — almost certainly Russian — moved into the streets around the parliamentary complex and seized control of regional airports, amid street protests by pro-Russian Crimeans calling for Moscow’s protection from the new government in Kiev.

That government came to power last week in the wake of months of pro-democracy protests against the now-fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, and his decision to turn Ukraine toward Russia, its longtime patron, instead of the European Union. Despite the calls for Moscow’s help, there has been no sign of ethnic Russians facing attacks in Crimea or elsewhere in Ukraine. Obama on Friday called on Russia to respect the independence and territory of Ukraine and not try to take advantage of its neighbor’s political upheaval. He said such action by Russia would represent a “profound interference” in matters he said should be decided by the Ukrainian people. He has not said, however, how the U.S. could pressure Moscow to step back from its intervention.

The Russian parliament urged that Moscow recall its ambassador in Washington in response to Obama’s speech. On Friday, Ukraine accused Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” in the Crimea, where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk called on Moscow “to recall their forces, and to return them to their stations,” according to the Interfax news agency. “Russian partners, stop provoking civil and military resistance in Ukraine.” Ukraine’s population of 46 million is divided in loyalties between Russia and Europe, with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union while eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support. Crimea, a semi-autonomous region that Russia gave to Ukraine in the 1950s, is mainly Russian-speaking.

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Source = ABC News

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Putin gets permission to use military in Ukraine; parliament wants to pull ambassador in DC

March 1, 2014

The Russian parliament unanimously voted Saturday to grant President Vladimir Putin permission to mobilize the country’s military in Ukraine and asked that the country’s ambassador in Washington be recalled after earlier statements by President Obama. Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea. But the request came a day after Obama warned Moscow that “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily in Ukraine. “I’m submitting a request for using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine pending the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country,” Putin said before the vote. Putin’s call came as pro-Russian demonstrations broke out in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east, where protesters raised Russian flags and beat up supporters of the new Ukrainian government.

Russia’s move sharply raised the stakes in the conflict following the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president last week by a protest movement aimed at turning Ukraine toward the European Union and away from Russia. Ukraine has accused Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” — a claim that brought an alarming new dimension to the crisis, and raised fears that Moscow is moving to intervene on the strategic peninsula where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based. The move also appears to formalize what Ukrainian officials described as an ongoing deployment of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea. His motion loosely refers to the “territory of Ukraine” rather than specifically to Crimea, raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine where many oppose the new authorities in Kiev.

In Crimea, the pro-Russian regional prime minister had earlier claimed control of the military and police there and asked Putin for help in keeping peace, sharpening the discord between the two neighboring Slavic countries. Sergei Aksenov, the head of the main pro-Russia party on the peninsula, said in a statement reported by local and Russian news agencies that he appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin “for assistance in guaranteeing peace and calmness on the territory of the autonomous republic of Crimea.” Aksenov declared that the armed forces, the police, the national security service and border guards will answer only to his orders. He said any commanders who don’t agree should leave their posts.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said unidentified gunmen sent by Kiev had attempted overnight to seize the Crimea region’s Interior Ministry offices and that people had been wounded in the “treacherous provocation,” Reuters reported. Ukrainian border guard vessels were put on combat alert in the Crimea region on Saturday and were leaving port to prevent the capture of military bases and ships, Interfax news agency quoted the border guard service as saying, according to Reuters. Russian troops moved into Crimea Friday, U.S. officials told Fox News, prompting Ukraine to accuse Russia of an “armed invasion.”

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Source = Fox News

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bbc

Ukraine crisis: Obama warns Russia against intervention

March 1, 2014

US President Barack Obama has warned Russia there will be “costs” for any military intervention in Ukraine. He said he was deeply concerned by reports of Russian military movements inside the country. Ukraine’s acting president has accused Russia of deploying troops to Crimea and trying to provoke Kiev into “armed conflict”. Russia’s UN ambassador said any troop movements in Crimea were within an existing arrangement with Ukraine. Speaking from the White House, President Obama commended Ukraine’s interim government for its “restraint”. “Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilising, which is not in the interests of Ukraine, Russia or Europe,” he said. “It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people. It would be a clear violation of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine – and of international laws.”

He added: “Just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic games, it would invite the condemnation of nations around the world. And, indeed, the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” Mr Obama did not spell out what any US response might be. However, the BBC’s Beth McLeod in Washington says the US is considering exerting economic pressure by withholding the deeper trade ties that Moscow seeks. It is also considering boycotting a G8 summit hosted by Russia, she adds, although that is not until June. In a TV address on Friday, Ukraine’s interim President Oleksander Turchynov said Moscow wanted the new government to react to provocations so it could annex Crimea. He appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to “stop provocations and start negotiations”.

He said Russia was behaving as it did before sending troops into Georgia in 2008 over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which have large ethnic Russian populations. “They are implementing the scenario like the one carried out in Abkhazia, when after provoking a conflict, they started an annexation of the territory,” Mr Turchynov said. Armed men in unidentified military uniforms have moved in on Crimea’s parliament, state television building and telecommunication centres. They have also been patrolling airports in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, and Sevastopol, where Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based.

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Source = BBC News

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Obama Warns Russia Against Crimea Invasion

March 1, 2014

US President Barack Obama has warned Moscow that any military intervention in Ukraine would be “deeply destabilising”, as Kiev claims Russian troops have invaded. He said: “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine. “We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine.” US officials say Mr Obama may cancel plans to attend the G8 summit in June if it is proved that Russia has sent troops into the Crimea. Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to host the economic meeting in Sochi, the site of the recent Winter Olympics. The administration official said the US was in discussions about the summit with European partners, adding that it was difficult to see how leaders would attend if Russia had forces in Crimea.

The US has also warned that discussions on deepening trade ties with Moscow may be halted in response to any Russian aggression. Mr Obama’s warnings come after Ukraine’s Acting President appealed to Russia to stop “naked aggression” in the Crimean peninsula amid claims from Kiev 2,000 Russian troops have invaded. Oleksandr Turchynov said: “I personally appeal to President Putin to immediately stop military provocation and to withdraw from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea … It’s a naked aggression against Ukraine.” Speaking after a private meeting at the United Nations, Ukraine’s ambassador to the UN, Yuriy Sergeyev, said there was an “external presence” in Crimea “encouraging separatism”. He added he had told the council about “unspecified and armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine”.

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Source = Sky News

Kyiv Post

Turchynov: Russia starts aggression in Crimea

February 28, 2014

Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine’s acting head of state, today accused Russia of “provoking a conflict” by backing the seizure of the Crimean parliament building and other government offices on the peninsula. Armed gunmen have also seized Crimea’s telecommunication company and two airports, prompting numerous flight cancellations. “They’re playing the Abkhazia scenario,” Turchynov said at a late night briefing in Verkhovna Rada, referring to Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia, which led to the breakaway independence of two of its regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Turchynov also had a direct message to Russian President Vladimir Putin: “I am personally addressing President Putin to stop the provocation and call back the military from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and work exclusively within the framework of the signed agreements,” Turchynov said.

He also noted that he expects help from the West in assuring Ukraine’s sovereignty. “I also remind that the United States, Russia and Great Britain are also guarantors of the national security of Ukraine,” Turchynov said, referring to the 1994 Budapest Memorandum that outlined Western guarantees in exchange for Ukraine’s surrender of its Soviet-era nuclear weapons arsenal. “Because of Verkhovna Rada’s and my personal appeal, the United Nations Security Council is having a session right now,” he said. “The whole civilized world supports Ukraine.” “We demand to stop the provocation, we demand to normalize the situation. We’re sure that Ukraine will preserve its territory, Ukraine will defend its independence and any attempts of annexation, intrusion will have very serious consequences,” Turchynov said.

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Source = Kyiv Post

ITV

Understanding of the post-Cold War era is at stake with Ukraine crisis

March 1, 2014

Last night’s ‘News at Ten’ was the sort of bulletin I relish. Great correspondents in the field – James Mates in Crimea, Emma Murphy in Kiev and Robert Moore in Washington DC: not a loose cannon among them but a corps of focused, experienced fusiliers, on top of their games. This morning a wave a Russian helicopter gun-ships had flown, low, across Ukraine towards Crimea; a warship, bristling with weaponry, cruised menacingly off the coast at Balaclava; and battalions of uniformed but not ‘badged’ militia seized the main airports of Crimea. By mid-day, there had been little tangible resistance according to James. As he observed on News at Ten, that truth gave the signal to Moscow to send in the ‘big boys’ – reportedly 2,000 troops and some more ‘green hard-ware’ flown in by heavy-lifting air-force transporters. As he and Emma reported, grave mutterings came from Ukraine’s ‘initiates’ to Government – an acting President and a temporary Interior Minister, neither long in post, spoke of ‘invasions of sovereign soil’, of ‘provocation’ and ‘aggression’. It is what they say on these occasions. There is little more they can say, let alone do.

In the late afternoon, Foreign Secretary Hague said he’d fly to Kiev on Sunday to talk to them. Reassurance, money, support, adherence to treaty obligations – and more of that sort of thing. Shortly after 9pm came the word from the US that the President, the Commander in Chief, would hold a press conference. Obama hadn’t started when we went on air at 10pm. I’d written ‘bongs’ with and without him. We went with ‘without’. James and Emma then set the scene brilliantly; minutes later, up popped Obama. Twitter gave me the basics for an ad-lib intro to James for an ‘up-sum’ from Crimea which he did superbly. That allowed us to go to Robert Moore and the President who confirmed the invasion, presumably having studied NSA & CIA satellite pictures and the dispatches of the brave men and women on the ground. He then talked of the ‘consequences’ of the invasion. It was brief, matter of fact-ish but ended with a sting in the tail; a possible hostage to fortune. Robert, with but seconds to think and reflect, was masterful as is his want. He ‘topped and tailed’ the bit that mattered perfectly.

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Source = ITV News

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Russian ‘invasion’ of Crimea fuels fear of Ukraine conflict

March 1, 2014

Russia and the west are on a collision course over Crimea after Moscow was accused of orchestrating a “military invasion and occupation” of the peninsula, as groups of apparently pro-Russian armed men seized control of two airports. Russian troop movements were reported across the territory. One Ukrainian official claimed late on Friday that 2,000 Russian troops had arrived in Crimea during the course of the day, in 13 Russian aircraft. Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, addressed the nation and accused Russia of carrying out a similar strategy to 2008, when it in effect annexed two Georgian territories, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. “They are trying to provoke a military conflict and are creating a scenario identical to the Abkhaz one, when having provoked a conflict, they annexed territory,” he said. Turchynov, installed following the removal of the pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych over the weekend, appealed to Vladimir Putin to halt the incursion: “I am personally addressing President Putin to stop the provocation and call back the military from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and work exclusively within the framework of the signed agreements,” he said.

On Friday evening the main Crimean air hub at Simferopol was still guarded by unidentified, uniformed men. Later it was announced that the airport had been closed and incoming flights diverted. There were similar scenes at Sevastopol airport. On Thursday pro-Russian gunmen seized the Crimean parliament in Simferopol. “I see what has happened as a military invasion and occupation in violation of all international treaties and norms,” said the new Ukrainian interior minister, Arsen Avakov earlier in the day. “This is a direct provocation aimed at armed bloodshed on the territory of a sovereign state.” Late on Friday Ukraine’s defence ministry put out a statement saying it had information that unknown “radical forces” were planning to try to disarm its military units in Crimea early Saturday morning and warned against such action.

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Source = The Guardian

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