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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Situation in Ukraine escalates amid heavy Russian military presence in Crimea and invasion attempts

Russian military in Crimea, Ukraine
(Image: The Daily Mail)
Situation in Ukraine remains extremely tense, as Russia invaded with its troops on Ukrainian territory in Crimean Peninsula since Thursday, with all the strategic objects of Crimean cities and Ukrainian military blocked by Russian soldiers, the streets patrolled by Russian troops and administrative buildings seized by the so called “unknown armed men”, who are actually Russian soldiers as well.

Crimea was almost totally cut from Ukraine as TV and media stations and offices on the Peninsula were seized by the armed men representing interests of “Russians in Crimea”, and Crimean airports blocked as well. New and new troops continue to arrive in Ukraine. Russian officials have been denying this fact claiming that Russian troops seen in Crimea are those stationed on Ukrainian territory according to the treaty signed between Ukraine and Russia about Russian Black sea fleet. Later though Russian officials claimed that Russian soldiers are holding military trainings, but Ukrainian military didn’t get any information about such trainings and the movements and deployment of Russian troops haven’t been coordinated with Ukrainian side, as it should be according to the treaty. In addition to that recently appointed Prime minister of Crimea also confirmed presence of R
ussian military of the territory of Ukraine and stated that he made a request to Russia to ‘protect people of Crimea from fascist aggression”, accusing current Ukrainian government of being illegitimate and fascist.

Russian military invasion in Crimea, Ukraine
(Image: BBC)
Crimean Parliament, seized by Russian soldiers and armed people, has held its session on Saturday and took a decision to hold referendum about broader autonomy of Crimea. Referendum date was set on 30 March. It’s worth mentioning though, that there were only nearly 40 MPs presented during the session, while Crimean parliament consists of 100 MPs. Crimean Parliament’s head though had 64 cards of MPs supported the decision, thus, the voting process was violated.

Crimean recently appointed government led by Mr. Aksyonov, loyal to pro-Russian powers and Putin, and by the new governor of Simferopol Mr. Chaly, who is not even Ukrainian citizen, as he holds Russian passport, has refused to recognize the decisions of Ukrainian parliament and new Ukrainian government and addressed Russia for help.

Situation in Crimea is extremely tense, as people are really scared and worried about the possibility of war here. Crimean Tatars, who are actually native inhabitants of Crimea (not Russians), have supported the new government of Ukraine and called for preserving unity and borders of Ukraine and peaceful solution of the crisis.

Russian military in Ukraine, Crimea
(Image: The Guardian)
Ukrainian military is presented in Crimea, but it does no activities, as any reaction and response from Ukrainian side could be considered by Russians as being an aggression and a cause to start a military operation, which was justified by the decisions of Russian Federal Council.

Russian officials have invade Ukraine on the request of Victor Yanukovich, who submitted this request to Vladimir Putin on 27 February, asking Russia for help “to stabilize situation in Ukraine, where the bands of fascists have seized the power”, according to the statements of Yanukovich, who hides currently in Russia and who is officially accused of mass murder and crimes against humanity in Ukraine and is being protected now by Putin’s regime. It’s worth mentioning that Russian officials have stated that they consider Yanukovich being Ukrainian legitimate President.

Thus, Russian troops have been deployed in Ukraine in order to “protect the interests of ethnic Russians living in Ukraine and to help to restore order” in the neighboring country. Russian parliament has supported this move, and Russian federal Council has unanimously voted for invasion and officially allowed Putin to use force on the territory of Ukraine, what is actually an official declaration of war. Putin though still haven’t signed this document.

Ukrainian Euromaidan activists brutally beaten by pro-Russian
protesters in Kharkiv
(Image: BBC)
Ukrainian side is alarmed by these developments, as Ukrainian recently appointed interim government, headed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, calls for restraint and avoiding of any provocations and demands Russia to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory and to resolve the crisis through the talks and with respect of Ukrainian sovereignty and borders.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk has declared, that any military activity by Russians on Ukrainian territory will mean a full-scale war and total end of all the relationships with Russia.

Vitaly Klichko and his political power UDAR have made harsh statements on the current situation calling for immediate session of Parliament and meeting of National Defense and Security Council amid the deepening crisis and alarming situation in Crimea. Mr. Klichko demanded Parliament to vote for denouncing of the Kharkiv treaties signed with Russin, denouncing of the treaty about Russian Black Sea fleet in Simferopol and immediate withdrawal of it from Ukrainian territory, denouncing of all gas agreements with Russia and total mobilization in Ukraine. Ukrainian Parliament is expected to hold and emergency session on Sunday, where acting President Oleksandr Turchinov could possible declare state of emergency or state of alert. Ukrainian military in its turn has received the orders to be ready for action.

Pro-Russian rally in Donetsk, Eastern Ukraine
(Image: Kyiv Post)
Amid these worrying events in Crimea Ukraine is facing another separatist treat in Eastern and Southern Ukraine, as violent clashes erupted on Saturday in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Lugansk and Mykolayiv during the rival marches of Euromaidan activists and pro-Russian protesters demanding referendum on the issue of federalization of Ukraine and even accession of some of Ukrainian territories to Russia. Tens of thousands of strange and aggressive people speaking with the strong Russian accent (according to the eyewitnesses) have stormed the building of Kharkiv regional office. More than 100 people have been injured during the clashes, some of them badly. Ukrainian flag was thrown and Russian one was installed on its place. It became known later that the man installing Russian flag and claiming to be Ukrainian, is Russian citizen from Moscow. According t the reports, these meetings were provocations organized by Russian citizens brought to Kharkiv and other Eastern and Southern cities of Ukraine in order to destabilize the situation and to create together with some local marginal elements supporting separatist moods the view, that Ukraine is totally divided, and that people refuse to recognize the new government.

The clashes have been stopped, and the crowds dispersed by police. Similar events occurred on Saturday in Donetsk, Lugansk, Mykolayiv, Odessa. Donetsk regional Council has announced the referendum in the region regarding federalization and autonomy. In Odessa though separatist moods didn’t find support, same in Mykolayiv.

Clashes in Kharkiv
(Image: BBC)
USA President Barak Obama in his turn has made a special statement regarding the situation in Ukraine and Russian aggression in the region on Friday. He called for Russian President to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine and to respect the borders and sovereignty of the independent state. He also warned Putin that any military operation in Ukraine would have high cost for Russia. Russian officials in their turn have been embarrassed by this statement and recalled their Ambassador form USA.

Ukraine has also made an official request to UN and NATO to hold an emergency meeting over Ukrainian situation and to mediate in resolving the crisis. In addition to that, Russia violates currently Budapest treaty, signed in 1994. According to this treaty Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapon in exchange of guarantees of its borders and sovereignty. USA. Great Britain and Russia were the guarantors of it, and Ukraine calls now for USA and Great Britain to stop Russian aggression.

EU Defense and Security Council, NATO and UN Security Council have been holding emergency meeting over Ukraine and Russian invasion in Crimea, as consultations and closed talks are also ongoing. EU officials and diplomats call Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and not to start military campaign there. USA Senate is discussing currently economic sanctions against Russia and promises Ukraine financial support. UN General Secretary has also called on Russia to stop its military aggression in Ukraine and to respect the borders of the neighboring countries. Russian officials though behave bold during the meeting of UN accusing Ukrainian opposition and current government and demanding coming back to the 21 agreements with Yanukovich, as they consider him being a legitimate President of Ukraine.
UN Security Council session
(Image: Haaretz)

In addition to that the reason for Russian military deployment and decision of Russian Federal Council to use force in Ukraine is illegitimate, as it is based on false information about “nearly hundred Russians, killed during the confrontation”. This statement was confirmed to be false by Russian lawyers and General Council.

USA President Barak Obama has made a statement regarding the situation in Ukraine and Russian movements on Sunday, after meeting of NATO and UN. Mr. Obama urged Putin to immediately withdraw its troops from Ukraine and to stop interfering in its internal affairs and warned Putin of possibility of economic sanctions and international isolation of Russia. In addition to that, US Administration has cancelled Mr. Obama’s participation in the G8 meeting to be held in Sochi. There are also threats that Russia could be expelled of G8 and possibly even from UN Security Council, where it has a veto right.

Meanwhile, total mobilization was declared in Ukraine since Sunday, as armed forces are on alert.