Ukraine army on alert after Russia approves troops


Kiev government mobilized troops Sunday. Russia’s Parliament signed off on Putin’s request to send military forces into Ukraine. Obama and Putin spoke on phone for 90 minutes – with each expressing their concern over the mounting crisis.

Ukraine’s shaky new government mobilized troops Sunday even as the defense minister said Kiev stood no chance against Russian troops in a rapidly escalating crisis that has raised fears of war, CNN reports.
Ukraine’s new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned Sunday his crisis-hit country was on the “brink of disaster,” accusing neighbor Russia of declaring war.
Amid signs of Russian military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula, Russian generals led their troops to three bases in the region Sunday demanding Ukrainian forces surrender and hand over their weapons, Vladislav Seleznyov, spokesman for the Crimean Media center of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, told CNN.
Speaking by phone, he said Russian troops had blocked access to the bases but added “there is no open confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian military forces in Crimea” and that Ukrainian troops continue to protect and serve Ukraine.
In Kiev, Ukraine’s parliament met behind closed doors. At the closing of the session, acting Defense Minister Ihor Tenyuh said Ukraine does not have the military force to resist Russia, according to two parliamentary members present at the meeting. Tenyuh called for talks to resolve the crisis with Russia, they said.
The Ukrainian National Security Council has ordered the mobilization of troops as Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to dismiss warnings from world leaders to avoid military intervention in Crimea, a senior Ukrainian official, Andriy Parubiy, said.
A sense of escalating crisis in Crimea – an autonomous region of eastern Ukraine with strong loyalty to neighboring Russia – swirled Saturday night, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemning what he called “the Russian Federation’s invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory.”
US Secretary of State John Kerry has warned Russia could be ejected from the Group of Eight developed nations. Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said, was “not going have a Sochi G8, he may not even remain in the G8 if this continues,” referring to a planned summit in Russia in June.
Russia has not confirmed it deployed thousands of troops to the region following reports that armed, Russian-speaking forces wearing military uniforms – without insignia – patrolled key infrastructure sites.
It was the latest in fast-moving developments that saw Russia’s Parliament sign off on Putin’s request to send military forces into Ukraine, raising the stakes in the escalating game of brinksmanship. Putin cited in his request a threat posed to the lives of Russian citizens and military personnel based in southern Crimea. Ukrainian officials have vehemently denied Putin’s claim.
According to a tweet from the official Russian government account Sunday, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev discussed the crisis in Ukraine in a telephone call with interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
According to a second tweet, Medvedev says Russia is interested in maintaining stable and friendly relations with Ukraine but reserves the right to protect the legitimate interests of its citizens and military personnel stationed in Crimea.
In what appeared to be an illustration of the growing schism between the two world powers, U.S. President Barack Obama and Putin spoke for 90 minutes – with each expressing their concern over the mounting crisis, according to separate statements released by their respective governments.
According to the Kremlin, Putin told Obama that Russia reserves the right to defend its interests in the Crimea region and the Russian-speaking people who live there.
The Russian government said in a statement that, in reply to U.S. concerns over the possibility of the use of Russian armed forces in Ukraine, Putin “drew his attention to the provocative and criminal actions on the part of ultranationalists who are in fact being supported by the current authorities in Kiev.”
According to a statement released Saturday by the White House, Obama “made clear that Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would negatively impact Russia’s standing in the international community.”
Ukraine acting President Oleksandr Turchynov took to the airwaves late Saturday to warn that any Russian military intervention would lead to war.
The crisis raised alarm bells with the worlds diplomats, with Ukrainian ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev calling on member nations of the U.N. Security Council to take a stand against what he called Russia’s “clear act of aggression.’’
“… The troops are already there, and their number is increasing every hour,” Sergeyev said during an emergency meeting of the Security Council.
The Russian Parliament vote Saturday came on the day that the newly installed pro-Russian leader of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, asked Putin for help in maintaining peace on the Black Sea peninsula – where Russia’s fleet is based at Sevastopol.
Security forces “are unable to efficiently control the situation in the republic,” he said in comments broadcast on Russian state channel Russia 24. Aksyonov was installed as the region’s premier after armed men took over the Crimean Parliament building on Thursday.
Pressure has been mounting on Russia as leaders from the EU and the UK joined an international outcry, with EU High Representative Catherine Ashton deploring Russia’s “unwarranted escalation of tensions.”
During a telephone call with Putin, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he told the Russian leader that it was crucial to “restore calm and proceed to an immediate de-escalation of the situation.”

NATO’s Rasmussen: Russia threatens Europe’s security

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen Sunday said Russia’s intervention in Ukraine violates the UN charter and threatens peace in Europe, kuna.net.kw informs.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting of the North Atlantic Council, NAC, Rasmussen said he called the urgent meeting because of “Russia’s military actions in Ukraine and because of President Putin’s threats against this sovereign nation.” The NAC is NATO’s principal political decision-making body which consists of Permanent Representatives from its 28 member countries.
“What Russia is now doing in Ukraine violates the principles of the UN charter. It threatens peace and security in Europe. Russia must stop its military activities and its threats,” stressed the NATO chief.
He said they will discuss in Sunday’s meeting its implications for Europe’s peace and security and for NATO’s relationship with Russia.
Afterwards, they were to meet in the NATO-Ukraine Commission.
“We support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We support the rights of the Ukrainian people to determine their own future without outside interference,” he said.

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