Ukrainians have called for continued support for their country amid warnings that the Russian invasion of the state is not over. Several hundred Ukrainians and supporters waving Ukrainian flags and banners set off the Custom House Square in Belfast on Sunday afternoon. They marched through Belfast city centre chanting messages including “please support Ukraine” and “stop genocide in Ukraine”. he Ukrainians in Northern Ireland group is organising a fundraising effort for aid including all-terrain ambulances and jeeps to rescue people on often difficult to pass ruined roads as well as to deliver essential services such as water and food. Addressing the culmination of the march at City Hall, Oleg Shankaruk, chair of Ukrainians in Northern Ireland, expressed thanks for support so far from government agencies to those hosting families.
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.