Russian troops take over Ukraine’s Crimea region

If the Ukrainian interim president Oleksandr Turchynov means what he said earlier, that any intervention by Russia is to be considered an act of war and will lead to war, then expect war to happen soon.

Putin sought and quickly got his parliament’s approval to use its military to protect Russia’s interests across Ukraine. But while sometimes-violent pro-Russian protests broke out Saturday in a number of Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine, Moscow’s immediate focus appeared to be Crimea.

Tensions increased when Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, made a late night announcement that he had ordered the country’s armed forces to be at full readiness because of the threat of “potential aggression.”

The Kremlin website said Putin told Obama that Russian troops may send its troops not only to Crimea but all of predominantly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine due to “the existence of real threats” to Russian citizens in Ukrainian territory.

“Vladimir Putin emphasized that, in the case of a further spread in violence in eastern regions and Crimea, Russia maintains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population that lives there,” the statement on the website said.

In Crimea, the new pro-Russian prime minister — who came to power after the gunmen swept into parliament on Thursday — claimed control of the military and police and asked Putin for help in keeping peace. There was no visible presence of Ukrainian troops Saturday.

The deputy premier in the Crimean government told Russian news agency RIA Novsti that Ukrainian troops were disarmed and others joined the Crimean people to help patrol the territory. The report couldn’t immediately be confirmed.

Crimean Tatars, the historic hosts of the land who make up 12 percent of the island’s population and stand strongly for Crimea remaining part of Ukraine, didn’t put up any visible resistance Saturday.

“The last two or three days have turned around the life of all the people in Crimea,” said Refat Chubarov, a Crimean Tatar leader. “They’ve taken over military bases and civil institutions. That’s why Crimean society is filled with fear. People are afraid of everyone and everything.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt summed the situation up simply: “What’s happening in Crimea is a Russian takeover. There is no doubt about that,” he told Swedish Radio. “Russian military forces are involved and there has been a local takeover of power.”

Moscow has remained silent on claims that Russian troops are already in control of much of the peninsula, saying any troop movements are within agreed-upon rules governing the semi-autonomous Ukrainian region.

Meanwhile, flights remained halted at Simferopol’s airport. Dozens of armed men in military uniforms without markings patrolled the area. They didn’t stop or search people leaving or entering the airport, and refused to talk to journalists.

Full article: Russian troops take over Ukraine’s Crimea region (MSN)

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