Troops in unmarked uniforms stand guard in Balaklava
on the outskirts of Sevastopol, Ukraine, March 1, 2014.
Russia’s upper house of parliament on Saturday unanimously approved sending troops to Ukraine . . . President Vladimir Putin asked parliament to allow him to deploy troops to Ukraine’s Crimea region, saying the lives of Russian citizens and soldiers had been threatened . . . Crimea’s leader asked for help in maintaining peace, but Ukraine’s new government condemned the Russian vote, calling it “direct aggression against the sovereignty of Ukraine” . . . on Friday, U.S. President Barack Obama warned Putin to respect Ukraine’s independence or face “consequences” after unidentified men dressed in military camouflage and carrying assault rifles took up positions at two Crimea airports . . . Ukrainian officials said the armed men “do not hide their affiliation with Russian armed forces” and condemned their presence as “terrorists with automatic weapons” and “an armed invasion and occupation in violation of all international treaties and norms” . . . Ukrainian officials have called for the UN Security Council to discuss the situation in Crimea . . . ousted President Viktor Yanukovych said during a press conference in Russia Friday that he was not removed from office but fled for his life after gangsters seized power in Kiev . . . Moscow appears to be making a play to loosen Crimea’s ties to the Kiev government and could be encouraging secession . . . developments in Crimea could be part of a larger Russian strategy, including access to loans and natural gas, to dissuade Ukraine from pursuing closer ties with Europe . . . any Russian military deployment to Ukraine will increase international tensions and lead to economic reprisals by the European Union and the United States . . . the situation in Crimea will place further pressure on the interim government in Kiev and will undermine its credibility if it cannot maintain control of Ukraine.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said Monday that he doubts the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new authorities and accused those in power of conducting an “armed mutiny” . . . he spoke after Ukraine’s parliament voted to remove Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovcyh on Saturday and issued a warrant for his arrest . . . the Obama administration warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that a Russian military intervention would be a “grave mistake” . . . meanwhile, European Union foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton arrived in Kiev to discuss possible financial and political support for Ukraine’s new leaders . . . Ukraine has until Tuesday to form a new unity government and is in danger of defaulting on its debts . . . The Putin government has made no official announcements concerning military intervention in Ukraine . . . however, the risk remains high as Crimea and pro-Russian areas in eastern Ukraine have seen protests against the overthrow of Yanukovych, prompting fears that Ukraine could be split apart by separatist movements.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. (Getty Images)
Ukrainian activists rally outside the Deutsche Bank office in Kiev on Feb. 3. (AFP/Getty Images)
An opposition protester guards a barricade in the center of Kiev on Jan. 30, 2014. (Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images)
The Ukrainian parliament canceled an anti-protest law on Tuesday and created an amnesty law for protesters on Wednesday . . . the opposition said the law didn’t go far enough and demanded on more legislation that will dissolve some presidential powers and hold snap elections . . . protesters rejected the amnesty bill and continued to occupy public squares and government buildings in Kiev, vowing to remain until new elections were called . . . Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych went on sick leave today, leaving the new legislation temporarily unsigned . . . Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday that Moscow may hold off on sending the rest of its $15 billion aid package to Ukraine until a new Ukrainian cabinet was formed . . . tensions have eased slightly in Ukraine as talks between the government and opposition continue, but the resolve of the protesters in Kiev is not likely to wane until Yanukovych resigns . . . some EU members are pressing Brussels to counter Russia’s aid package as both vie for influence in the former Soviet state . . . if the opposition were to win a snap election, an EU bid would likely be accepted by the new government, complicating relations with Moscow.
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