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February 8, 2023

Ukraine president: Russia ‘is refusing crisis talks’

Pro-Russians tighten security as Crimea heads for vote on joining Russia. US House votes on Ukraine resolution.

Russia’s leaders are refusing all negotiations with their Ukrainian counterparts, Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov (photo) has said, according to the BBC.
Meanwhile interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is travelling to the US to meet President Barack Obama. On Thursday he is due to address the UN Security Council in New York.
Turchynov said that Sunday’s referendum in Crimea – in which people on the peninsula will decide whether or not to become part of Russia – was “a provocation” that would be boycotted by most people. “The Russian forces don’t intend to hold a referendum, they’re just going to falsify the results,” he said.
The president said that at the same time the Russian government was refusing to enter into any dialogue with Ukraine.
The president was speaking as Moscow announced more military exercises involving 4,000 paratroopers – apparently the biggest such exercise in 20 years.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk was flying to the US on Wednesday and was scheduled to meet President Obama on the same day in the White House.
An adviser to Ukrainian presidential hopeful Vitali Klitschko has warned that if Crimea is annexed by Russia, European security will “go up in flames”.
Ukrainian troops remain blockaded in their bases by armed men across Crimea.
Intense diplomatic efforts to settle the crisis diplomatically are continuing, with US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov speaking by telephone on Tuesday.
A number of flights from Crimea’s main airport in Simferopol have been cancelled amid reports that pro-Moscow militia have taken over air traffic control.
Russian-speaking troops wearing no identifying insignia have Crimea firmly under their control. Many believe that they belong at least in part to Russia’s military, something Moscow has repeatedly denied, CNN reports.
The well-armed men have effectively isolated the peninsula with an ethnic Russian majority from the rest of Ukraine.
There has been an international outcry over Crimea’s push for separation, and warnings that the referendum won’t be recognized.
The U.S. House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the violation of Ukrainian sovereignty by Russian military forces, and calling for the deployment of international monitors in Crimea and other areas of Ukraine.  The vote on Tuesday – a rare show of unity between congressional Republicans and Democrats as they sent their message to Moscow – was 403 in favor and six against, the Voice of America reports.
Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer said Tuesday’s resolution shows where Americans stand on Russian intervention in Ukraine.
G7 warns Russia on ‘annexing’ Crimea
Leaders of the G7 group of nations have called on Russia to stop all efforts to “annex” Ukraine’s Crimea region, the BBC informs. They said if Russia took such a step they would “take further action, individually and collectively”. The G7 leaders also said they would not recognise the results of a referendum in Crimea this weekend on whether to split from Ukraine and join Russia.

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