Russian troops moved into Crimea Friday, U.S. officials told Fox News, prompting Ukraine to accuse Russia of an “armed invasion.”
At the White House, President Obama said the U.S. government is “deeply concerned” by reports of Russian “military movements” and warned any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty would be “deeply destabilizing.”
“There will be costs” for any military intervention, he said, without specifying what those costs might be.
U.S. officials told Fox News they see “evidence of air and maritime movement into and out of Crimea by Russian forces” although the Pentagon declined to officially “characterize” the movement.
Agence France Press quoted a top Ukranian official as saying Russian aircraft carrying nearly 2,000 suspected troops have landed at a military air base near the regional capital of the restive Crimean peninsula.
“Thirteen Russian aircraft landed at the airport of Gvardeyskoye (near Simferopol) with 150 people in each one,” Sergiy Kunitsyn, the Ukrainian president’s special representative in Crimea, told the local ATR television channel, according to AFP. source – Fox News
You can count on Obama to give the Ukrainian people exactly the same help he gave the Syrian people after last year’s chemical weapons attack on them by their own leader. Nothing.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Delivering a blunt warning to Moscow, President Barack Obama expressed deep concern Friday over reported military activity inside Ukraine by Russia and warned “there will be costs” for any intervention. He did not say what those costs might be.
Obama called on Russia to respect the independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine and not try to take advantage of its neighbor, which is undergoing political upheaval.
“Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,” Obama said in a hastily arranged statement delivered from the White House. Such action by Russia would not serve the interests of the Ukrainian people, Russia or Europe, Obama said, and would represent a “profound interference” in matters he said must be decided by the Ukrainian people.
“Just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, that would invite the condemnation of nations around the world,” Obama said. “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” source – AP
NTEB has obtained from Ukrainian sources a dramatic first look at Russian military helicopters swarming over Crimea, launched from the Russian base in Anapa:
“Today (28 February) In the State Border Guard technical observation posts was tracked flying from Kerch direction at a height of up to 1 km more than 10 Russian military helicopters in Ukraine,” – said in a statement.
“At the airport” Kacha “was formalized 3 helicopter, which was filed on the appropriate application BSF. Remaining helicopters that crossed the state border of Ukraine violated the requirements of the relevant bilateral agreements”, – the report says. source – ZN UA
SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine — A Russian armored personnel carrier loomed beside a checkpoint controlling access to Sevastopol on Wednesday while other heavily armed vehicles moved into public places to guard Russia’s Black Sea fleet in the Crimean port, as Russian President Vladimir Putin further ratcheted up the pressure on Ukraine’s caretaker government Wednesday.
Earlier, Russia placed 150,000 troops near the Ukrainian border on alert and ordered urgent exercises to test combat readiness. The unprecedented moves — which included men wearing combat gear, ski masks and armed with assault rifles searching vehicles 40 kiolmetres north of Sevastopol — sent a clear signal to Kyiv and to the West of Russia’s determination to continue to defend what it regards as its interests, and the interests of Ukraine’s large Russian minority, in places such as the Crimea.
While obviously designed to intimidate Kyiv, what Putin was also doing was reassuring anxious ethnic Russians in Ukraine that they had not been abandoned.
Ukraine’s deepening political fault lines, and the potential for mayhem, were not only evident in Sevastopol and Moscow. They were on clear display Wednesday 100 kilometres to the north in Simferopol. Crimean Tatars loyal to Kyiv and chanting “allahu akbar” clashed with a group of Russian-Ukrainians who shouted their support for Moscow. A group of Tatars pushed their way past riot police and into the Crimean parliament where they succeeded in stopping debate on a motion to secede from Ukraine. source – National Post
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) – Armed men seized the regional government headquarters and parliament in Ukraine’s Crimea on Thursday and raised the Russian flag, alarming Kiev’s new rulers, who urged Moscow not to abuse its navy base rights on the peninsula by moving troops around.
“I am appealing to the military leadership of the Russian Black Sea fleet,” said Olexander Turchinov, acting president since the removal of Viktor Yanukovich last week. “Any military movements, the more so if they are with weapons, beyond the boundaries of this territory (the base) will be seen by us as military aggression
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry also summoned Russia’s acting envoy in Kiev for immediate consultations.
There were mixed signals from Moscow, which put fighter jets along its western borders on combat alert, but earlier said it would take part in discussions on an International Monetary Fund (IMF) financial package for Ukraine. Ukraine has said it needs $35 billion over the next two years to stave off bankruptcy.
The fear of military escalation prompted expressions of concern from the West, with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urging Russia not to do anything that would “escalate tension or create misunderstanding”.
Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski called the seizure of government buildings in the Crimea a “very dangerous game”.
“This is a drastic step, and I’m warning those who did this and those who allowed them to do this, because this is how regional conflicts begin,” he told a news conference. source – Reuters
Havana (AFP) – A Russian warship was docked in Havana Wednesday, without explanation from Communist Cuba or its state media. The boat, measuring 91.5 meters (300 feet) long and 14.5 meters wide, was docked at the port of Havana’s cruise ship area, near the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
The Vishnya, or Meridian-class intelligence ship, which has a crew of around 200, went into service in the Black Sea in 1988 before it was transferred seven years later to the northern fleet, Russian media sources said.
Neither Cuban authorities nor state media have mentioned the ship’s visit, unlike on previous tours by Russian warships.
The former Soviet Union was Cuba’s sponsor state through three decades of Cold War. After a period of some distancing under former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, the countries renewed their political, economic and military cooperation.
The ship is reportedly armed with 30mm guns and anti-aircraft missiles.
Its visit comes as isolated Havana’s current economic and political patron, Venezuela, is facing unprecedented violent protests against President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
Cuban President Raul Castro’s Communist government is the Americas’ only one-party regime. source – Yahoo News
President Obama’s national security adviser warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that it “would be a grave mistake” to send troops into Ukraine. Well, it seems that Vladimir Putin could care less as he orders massive military readiness tests in preparation to enter Ukraine.
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a test of the “battle readiness” of military forces deployed in the western and central areas of the country, a likely show of Kremlin muscle to reassure ethnic Russians in Ukraine that their rights and interests will be defended.
The announcement of the “immediate and thorough” readiness exercises was made by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and reported by the Interfax news agency.
“Putin ordered confirmation of troop capabilities for action in the event of a crisis situation that presents a threat to the military security of the country,” as well as anti-terrorism and emergency response readiness, Shoigu was quoted as saying by Interfax.
The readiness test was ordered amid growing tensions in Ukraine between the Russian-allied eastern areas of the restive country and pro-Western political forces now in control of the capital, Kiev, following a rebellion that drove President Viktor Yanukovich to flee his office.
Acting Ukrainian President Olexandr Turchynov was to address a public rally in Kiev’s Independence Square late Wednesday to announce proposed appointments to an interim Cabinet to govern Ukraine until a presidential election to replace Yanukovich on May 25 and parliamentary elections expected over the summer.
The current parliament, now largely devoid of lawmakers from Yanukovich’s Party of Regions, who either defected to the opposition or retreated to their home bases, was to vote on the nominations Thursday.
Russia had been backing Yanukovich with a promised $15-billion package of loans and energy subsidies after he angered liberal and nationalist politicians in late November by scrapping an association agreement with the European Union. That pact would have enhanced Ukrainian economic ties with the West and opened a path to eventual membership in the EU.
Yanukovich’s rejection of the EU deal in favor of strengthening ties with Russia, for centuries the dominant political force in Ukraine, set off three months of demonstrations that escalated into rioting last week and a bloody crackdown by security forces. At least 82 people died in the confrontations before an EU-brokered peace accord and agreement on early elections.
Pro-Western opposition politicians who led the rebellion have filled the power vacuum in Kiev, which triggered demonstrations in Russian-speaking areas of eastern and southern Ukraine, where industry remains elaborately entwined with Russia’s economy and Moscow keeps its Black Sea fleet based in Sevastopol.
Several dozen Russians worried about their status in a potentially opposition-ruled Ukraine have been demonstrating for the last three days outside public buildings in Sevastopol, Simferopol, Odessa and other southern cities, some demanding that Russia protect them or that the region secede and annex to Russia.
On Wednesday, rival demonstrations involving thousands of Crimean Tatars, who were exiled from Russia to Crimea by dictator Josef Stalin during World War II, pledged allegiance to Kiev and their place within Ukraine.
Shouts of “Ukraine is not Russia” and “Allahu Akbar” could be heard from the crowd of historically Muslim Tatars as they waved the yellow and blue Ukrainian and Tatar flags in defiance of the considerably smaller pro-Russian turnout, according to news agencies and Ukrainian television.
The Kremlin has taken a cautious approach to the evolving crisis in Ukraine, a country of 46 million and arguably Russia’s most important ally as most of Moscow’s exports of natural gas pass through pipelines on Ukrainian territory.
In Moscow, the speaker of the upper house of the Russian parliament dismissed warnings by Russian nationalist politicians that the Kremlin would take military action against Ukraine if it senses any threat to the Russian-speaking population, which numbers about 7.5 million.
“This scenario is impossible,” said Valentina Matvienko, speaker of the Federation Council. “Russia has been stating and reiterating its stance that we have no right and cannot interfere in domestic affairs of a sovereign state. We are for Ukraine as a united state, and there should be no basis for separatist sentiments.” source – LA Times