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Monday, March 3, 2014

Ukraine: situation in Crimea remains tense amid the growing pressure of international powers on Russia and Russian protests as well

Russian soldiers in Crimea, Ukraine
(Image: Jerusalem Post)
Russian occupation of Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula continues since 28 February 2014, despite the demands of Ukrainian government to withdraw the troops and the calls to start the talks and international reaction on Russian military invasion as well.

Crimean cities and Ukrainian military objects remain seized by Russian military troops and paratroopers. Several provocations have been made by Russian military on Saturday night and during Sunday, as Russian soldiers have attacked several Ukrainian military units and bases in Crimea demanding Ukrainian soldiers to give up the weapons and to raise Russian flag instead of Ukrainian. Ukrainian soldiers refuse to do so and declare that they have taken an oath to Ukraine and Ukrainian people and they will stand till the end. Ukrainian central command though didn’t give any direct orders to Crimean soldiers and mariners, the main order remains the same: avoid any confrontations and don’t react on Russian provocations, as Russian side is waiting for the first shot from Ukrainian side, because it will give Russians the reason to use force claiming that situation in Crimea isn’t controlled.

Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea keep their positions and are ready to stand till the end. There are also reports that Russian soldiers have started another attack on Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea, close to Sevastopol. In addition to that, massive explosion hit Simferopol, capital of Crimean Autonomy. No details are available at the moment, though Ukrainian government warns of the high possibility of Russian provocations during the night.

Anti-war protests in Moscow, Russia
(Image: Hromadske TV)
Ukrainian Armed Forces are in state of alert and are ready for defending the country. Ukrainian Security and Defense Council has order mobilization of all reservists, though the local offices of Ukrainian military recruitment offices are overcrowded since the morning Sunday, as thousands of people demand to include them in the ranks of military.

Ukrainian Parliament and newly appointed government, headed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, are continuing their political and diplomatic efforts in order to resolve the crisis peacefully and to avoid military conflict in Ukraine. Ukrainian authorities appeal to the international organizations, such as NATO, UN and OSCE for supporting Ukraine and mediation in the crisis.

Several MPs of Parliament have offered an initiative to stop broadcasting several Russian TV-Channels promoting violence, aggression and military operation in Ukraine. In addition to that, Parliament is expected to consider the possibility of temporarily closure of Russian-Ukrainian borders due to the recent events and increasing activity of Russian citizens arriving in Ukraine and staging mass actions against Ukraine and supporting military intervention (Kharkiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk etc.).

As for the reaction of the international community, it’s worth mentioning, that all the Western countries have supported Ukraine and urged Vladimir Putin to stop military aggression against Ukraine and to respect the territorial integrity of the neighboring independent state. Russia has seriously violated several treaties signed previously between the two countries; in addition to that it violated the norms of international law and the terms of Budapest Treaty (1994). International community’s reaction was fast and harsh, strongly condemning the activities and position of Putin’s Russia and demanding withdrawal of the troops from Ukrainian territory, as it violates territorial integrity of Ukraine, guaranteed by UN and USA, Great Britain and Russia (according to the Budapest Treaty).

Protests against Putin's military intervention in Ukraine.
Moscow, Russia
(Image: Glavkom)
NATO, OSCE and UN Security Councils have held emergency meetings regarding the situation in Ukraine, and consultations continue. The common result of all of them: the sides condemn Russian military invasion and possible operation and calls to immediately withdraw the troops. USA and EU have declared that they are ready to impose economic and political sanctions against Russia, and it risks becoming politically isolated.

It’s worth mentioning, that leading countries-members of G-8, USA, Great Britain, Canada and France, have officially declared that they won’t participate in the meeting of G-8 to be held in Russian Sochi. IN addition to that there were also offers to exclude Russia from the ranks of G-8. Officials of several European countries and USA as well will also boycott Paralympics in Sochi. Great Britain demands explanations from the Russian side. USA State Secretary John Kerry is expected to visit Kyiv on Tuesday, while Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland participates in a special meeting of OSCE held in Austrian Vienna.

Massive marches have been held on Sunday all over Ukraine, as tens of thousands of Ukrainians have protested against Russian military intervention and chanted that Ukraine is united and cannot be divided. Massive rally and People’s Council have been held in Kyiv Independence Square (Maidan), as tens of thousands of Ukrainians have marched in several Ukrainian cities demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops and stop interfering in Ukrainian internal affairs. Dnipropetrivsk, Odessa, Poltava, Lugansk, Donetsk, Cherkassy, Sumy, Crimean cities etc. have joined the national rally against Russian occupation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor
Angela Merkel
(Image: Christian Science Monitor)
Thousands of Russian citizens have been also protesting on Sunday against Putin’s military invasion on the streets of Russian cities. Marches to support Ukrainians and against war have been held in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Nizhni Novgorod, Voronezh and many other cities as well, with people showing their solidarity with Ukrainians and asking Putin to stop intervention. It’s worth mentioning though, that these protests have been violently dispersed by Russian police, with more than 300 people arrested.

Meanwhile, Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel had a long phone conversation, and under the pressure of Germany Russia agreed to form an international contact and investigative mission consisting of the international members and observed by OSCE. The mission will be aimed to investigate the facts and situation and to mediate helping to politically resolve the crisis in Crimea and restore political dialogue. It was reported by official representative of German government Georg Streiter. In addition to that, Angela Merkel has accused Putin of violation of international law and unacceptable invasion in Ukraine and called for respect of Ukrainian borders and territorial integrity.