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Latest news regarding the Ukriane vs Russia in the Crimean stand off

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Latest news regarding the Ukriane vs Russia in the Crimean stand off Empty Latest news regarding the Ukriane vs Russia in the Crimean stand off

Post by hudunikibolokov on Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:00 pm

Russian President Vladimir Putin: "It is an unconstitutional coup and a military seizure of power"
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Ukraine crisis

Latest updates Live
Russia's case
Military balance
Crimeans react

Russian President Vladimir Putin says there is no need yet to send Russian troops into Ukraine.

But Russia reserves the right to use "all means" to protect its citizens in the east of the country, Mr Putin said.

He denied Russian troops had besieged Ukrainians in Crimea - all troops there were pro-Russian "self-defence" forces.

Mr Putin called the toppling of President Viktor Yanukovych following mass protests an "anti-constitutional coup and armed seizure of power".

Crimea has become the major focus of post-uprising Ukraine, as troops in what appear to be Russian uniforms surround Ukrainian military bases and other installations. Russia is de facto in control of the peninsula.

Tensions were especially high at Belbek airbase near Sevastopol, the port city which is the base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. Early on Tuesday, pro-Russian forces fired warning shots in the air, and Ukrainian troops later marched away from the base.

Moscow says it reserves the right to use "all means" to protect its citizens in eastern Ukraine

Meanwhile, two Ukrainian warships are reported to be blocked by a Russian ship in the port of Sevastopol.
Billion-dollar support

There is intense diplomatic activity aimed at defusing the crisis.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Kiev, bringing an offer of a $1bn package to help ease Ukraine's looming financial crisis.

"We are going to help you," he told crowds in Independence Square, where he laid flowers for victims of last month's violence. "We are helping you. President Obama is planning for more assistance."

He then headed into meetings with interim President Olexander Turchynov, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other new government figures.
US Secretary of State John Kerry with Ukraine's interim President Olexander Turchynov (L) and PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk (R) Mr Kerry is offering Ukraine a $1bn package to help it through an energy crisis
US Secretary of State John Kerry lays flowers in the Maidan in Kiev, Ukraine (4 March 2014) On arrival in Kiev, Mr Kerry first paid tribute to those killed in the Maidan protests

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton in the Spanish capital, Madrid, shortly.

The EU's Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has said the the EU is considering paying the $2bn (£1.2bn) which Ukraine owes to Russia in gas bills, AFP news agency reports.

Moscow has meanwhile agreed to attend an extraordinary meeting of Nato members on Wednesday.

Mr Putin said "militants" had plunged Ukraine into "chaos", with "nationalists" and "anti-Semites" roaming the streets of Kiev and other cities.

If Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine asked for Russia's help, or if there were signs of anarchy, "we reserve the right to use all means," he said.

Hundreds of pro-Russian demonstrators have been rallying in Donetsk and other parts of eastern Ukraine, rejecting the new pro-Western leadership in Kiev.
Ukrainian officer with troops under Russian command, Belbek, Crimea, 4 Mar 14 A Ukrainian officer (centre) negotiates with troops under Russian command at Belbek air base
Armed stand-off at Perevalne base, Crimea, 4 Mar 14 Ukrainian troops remain blockaded in Perevalne military base in Crimea
Pro-Russian protest in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine (3 March 2014) Pro-Russian protests have been held in cities in eastern Ukraine, including here in Donetsk
Continue reading the main story
At the scene
image of Mark Lowen Mark Lowen BBC News, Sevastopol

The rumoured deadline had many on edge. It has been peaceful overnight, though there were reports of a couple of warning shots fired at Sevastopol airport.

There is an atmosphere of fear and conjecture.

Russian soldiers and local self-defence units are still at key installations, including Ukrainian military bases.

At one base, in Bakhchisaray, a 22-year-old Russian soldier, Vitaly, said they were guarding the base against Ukrainian nationalists. "The people want us here, this is not an occupation," he said.

A Ukrainian soldier there said "it's a Russian provocation. I answer to my government in Kiev - I'm not going anywhere".

At the front gate was a pro-Russian civilian group with blaring music. One of them said they were protecting locals from "fascism".

Does Russia have a case?
Military balance of power

Ukraine says some 16,000 Russian troops have arrived in Crimea in recent days.

But Mr Putin insisted that the heavily armed men who had taken over official buildings in Crimea and blocked Ukrainian troops in their barracks were pro-Russian "local forces of self-defence" - not Russian troops.

The BBC's Mark Lowen in the Crimean town of Bakhchysarai - north of Sevastopol - said one such armed man had told him on Monday he was "a Russian soldier, based usually in Sevastopol".

When asked whether he thought it was right for Russia to blockade Ukrainian bases he replied: "If you ask me as a person, then no it's not right. But I'm following orders."

Earlier, Mr Putin announced the end of massive Russian military exercises near Ukraine's border and ordered the troops back to barracks.
Defending Yanukovych

Mr Putin also insisted that Mr Yanukovych - whom Ukraine's parliament voted to impeach on 22 February - was still the legitimate president, though admitted: "I don't think he has a political future."

There were only three legal means to remove a president, Mr Putin said: death, resignation or impeachment.

He accused the West of encouraging the street protests, and insisted that Mr Yanukovych had agreed to all of the opposition's demands by signing a political deal with the then opposition in the days before he was deposed.

Mr Yanukovych is now in Russia - Mr Putin said Russia had had to help him, "otherwise he'd just have been killed".

There is international concern about the economic fallout from the crisis. On Monday the rouble plunged to new lows against the dollar and euro, but global markets steadied on Tuesday.

Ukraine's ailing economy relies on Russian gas - and on Tuesday the head of Russia's gas monopoly Gazprom, Alexei Miller, said that from April Ukraine would no longer get discounted gas, because it had violated its agreements.


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