Moscow’s move to occupy Crimea with Russian troops is a declaration of war on Ukraine according to interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk.
“We are on the brink of disaster,” Yatseniuk said.
The self-deсlared Ukrainian Defense Ministry claimed earlier Monday that the Russian Black Sea Fleet had delivered an ultimatum to the Ukrainian forces remaining on the Crimean peninsula.
“If they won’t give up by 05:00 local time (03:00 GMT) a full-scale assault on the units of Ukrainian military in Crimea will begin,” an unnamed source in the ministry told Interfax-Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed the unfolding crisis with its southern neighbor on the phone with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
“The foreign ministers of both countries exchanged views on the situation in Ukraine. They noted the coincidence of positions on this aspect,” Itar-Tass news agency reported a spokesperson for the Russian ministry said.
The phone call was after Russia’s G8 partners, including the US and Britain, condemned the Kremlin’s decision to deploy troops in Crimea, allegedly to protect from radicals and extremists the ethnic Russians living there.
Ukraine’s new government has accused Russia of declaring war by reportedly sending thousands of military personnel into the Crimean peninsula where it already has a large naval base.
Last week the Russian parliament authorized President Vladimir Putin to use military force to protect Russian interests all across Ukraine.
Crimea is a multi-ethnic region enjoying autonomy after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991. According to the 2001 Ukrainian Census, 58.3 percent of the Crimean population are ethnic Russians and most of them hold Russian passports.”
In the meantime, China’s Foreign Ministry has issued a statement to clarify its stance:
“China upholds its own diplomatic principles and the basic codes for international relations, which have also been implied on the Ukraine issue,” China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said.
“Meanwhile, we have also taken the historical and contemporary factors of the Ukraine issue into consideration.”
Although there has been no violence, Russian troops now occupy key positions throughout the Crimean peninsula, including airports and communication hubs.
Kiev’s post-overthrow government responded by ordering a full military mobilization of Ukrainian forces. BBC News reports that Russian troops are surrounding Ukrainian army bases in addition to, “digging trenches on the border with mainland Ukraine.”
Many Ukrainian armed forces in Crimea resigned their positions and are expected to take military oaths and switch sides, according to reports.
Although technically part of Ukraine, Crimea is an Autonomous Republic and authorities there have firmly sided with Russia over the conflict. Vladimir Konstantinov, Chairman of the republic’s Supreme Council, urged NATO not to send troops into the region.
Of course, the US has to get involved in everything. Here is what President Obama said about the Russian/Ukrainian situation:
“Bla bla bla, blabla, I also spoke bla, bla I also commend bla bla…”, in other words he did a lot of talking without really saying anything.
The bottom line is, we shall see what happens…
By Tom Retterbush
SOURCES & RESOURCES