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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Situation in Ukrainian Crimea escalates with ongoing Russian military operation amid the international pressure and condemnation of aggression

Russian military troops and vehicles in Ukrainian Crimea
(Image: Bloomberg)
Situation in Ukrainian Crimea remains extremely tense amid growing escalation of conflict and increasing Russian military presence, despite the international pressure and unanimous condemnation of Russian military activities on the territory of Ukraine and demands to withdraw the troops. Russian troops continue to occupy Crimean Peninsula, blocking and surrounding currently Ukrainian military bases and controlling all the strategic objects on the Peninsula.

In addition to that several provocations occurred during the night and the following day, as Russian soldiers have been attacking Ukrainian military units and bases, demanding Ukrainian soldiers to give up weapons and surrender to Russian military, raising also Russian flag. Russian Black Sea Fleet commander Alexandr Vitko has issued ultimatum to Ukrainian soldiers: either they surrender to Russia or they will face a full-scale assault till 5 a.m. Tuesday. Ukrainians refused to obey and stated they’ve taken an oath to Ukrainian people and state and will stand till the end. Families of Ukrainian soldiers have gathered in front of several military bases, occupied by Russian troops, standing as a human shield between Ukrainian and Russian soldiers.

Russian troops in Ukrainian Crimea
(Image: Reuters)
Russia though denies the information about ultimatum to Ukrainian military and continues to deny also an increasing presence of military units on the territory of Ukraine, despite the fact that another 5000 soldiers along with military technique and vehicles and helicopters have arrived in Crimea, and Russian military contingent makes currently up to 16000, stated Igor Tenyukh, Ukrainian Minister of Defense.

In addition to that Ukrainian Ministry of Interior has warned about the information regarding the possibility of serious provocations prepared by Russians in Crimea. Russian troops have managed to capture the weapons from one of the Ukrainian units, and these weapons could be possibly used in provocation against Ukrainian military. Ministry of Interior has received information about the preparation to the provocative operation, as several Russian soldiers will be killed using Ukrainian weapons, in order to accuse Ukrainian side of aggression and to create a reason to start a full-scale military operation. In addition to that, such a provocation could show Crimea as a lawless region, where there are violence and chaos, and it could justify Russian military aggression. Thus, Ukrainian military expects possible provocations and calls for soldiers to avoid any confrontations and to ignore provocations.

Meanwhile, some Ukrainian experts are talking about the necessity of restoring Ukrainian nuclear status, while three Ukrainian former Presidents, Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Victor Yushchenko, are calling for denouncing of Kharkiv Pact signed with Russia and regulating presence of Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine.

UN Security Council meeting over Ukrainian situation
(Image: UN Multimedia)
Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has issued a decree to partially close Russian-Ukrainian border and to increase control there due to the tense situation in the country and numerous Russian citizens arriving in Ukraine and conducting provocations in the Southern and Eastern cities.

Massive rallies against Putin’s military intervention in Crimea and for unity of Ukraine have been held in several Ukrainian cities on Monday. Some of them, like the ones in Kharkiv, Donetsk and Lugansk, have faced some clashes with pro-Russian protesters who tried to install Russian flags on the administrative offices buildings, but the crowds were dispersed.

Meanwhile, international community is deeply concerned with the continuous escalation of conflict in Ukraine provoked by Russia and call for immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukrainian territory, or Russia risks to face international economic and political sanctions and become isolated. It’s worth mentioning, that leaders of the G-7 countries, Great Britain, USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy and Japan, have officially declared that they stop preparations to participation in G-8 Summit to be held this summer in Sochi, and Russia in its turn risks to be excluded from the G-8.

Yuriy Sergeev, Ukrainian representative in UN
(Image: ADN)
US State Secretary John Kerry is expected to visit Kyiv on Tuesday. He will meet with Ukrainian acting President Oleksandr Turchinov and Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in order to discuss the situation in Ukraine and to look for the ways of its peaceful resolving. USA Administration though have warned Putin of sanctions and using all the possible options, including military presence, in order to hold Russia accountable in Crimea, but USA along with Ukraine and all the civilized world expects that Russia will participate in the talks to resolve the situation peacefully.

EU Security Council and OSCE will hold an emergency Summit over Ukrainian issue on Thursday, 6 March. The Summit will be held on the request of Polish government and will discuss the ways to resolve the crisis and to de-escalate the conflict. EU in its turn have offered financial aid for Ukrainian economy, right after the talks regarding the IMF credit for Ukraine, expected to start on 4 March. USA has also declared their readiness to support financially Ukrainian economy.

As for the EU Security Council and European Commission meetings, their results were also positive for Ukraine, despite the fact that EU didn’t impose sanctions against Russia at the moment. Though EU has actually set a deadline for Putin to withdraw his troops from Crimea and to de-escalate situation till Thursday, 6 March, when the meeting of EU Security Council will be held. If it won’t happen, EU warns of imposing sanctions and suspending ‘all the contacts” (according to the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius), including talks about visa-regime and relationships and cooperation with EU.

UN Security Council meeting over Ukraine
(Image: International Business Times)
Russia in its turn has initiated an emergency meeting of UN Security Council on Monday, 3 March, in order to discuss the situation in Ukraine and to justify its military operation in Crimea. The meeting has started at 10:30 Kyiv time and was attended by the representatives of the countries-members of UN Security Council, as these countries representatives have been delivering their speeches expressing their positions over the issue of Russian aggression in Ukraine. None of the countries supported Russian actions, strongly condemning the invasions and demanding withdrawal of the troops. Russian UN representative Mr. Churkov tried to appeal to UN with the statements about the necessity to resolve the crisis in a peaceful way through returning to the terms of the 21 February agreements and accusing Ukrainian new government of being fascist and ultra-radical, oppressing the rights of Russians and Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine. Though this speech didn’t find support. Ukrainian representative in his turn reminded Mr. Churkov, that Yanukovich was impeached by Parliament, and he didn’t sign the 21 February agreement as he has fled Ukraine and is currently hiding in Russia. In addition to that, Russian official representative didn’t sign this agreement as well. Ukraine also addressed Russia calling to respect Ukrainian borders and territorial integrity and reminded Russia about the international treaties which Russia has violated and about the Budapest Treaty of 1994, according to which Russia along with USA and Great Britain guarantees Ukrainian integrity and sovereignty.

Thus, the members of UN Security Council meeting have condemned Russian military invasion and called to withdraw the troops. UN urges Russia to respect Ukrainian territorial integrity and borders and to stop interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign and independent state.

Meanwhile, one day of Russian military invasion in Ukraine amid the growing pressure of international community has already cost Russia a lot, as its market of valuable papers fell on 11% and lost nearly $61 billion of capitalization. Russian currency has also fallen, and economy suffered badly during the latest days of Russian military presence in Ukraine.