The ukranian military forces currently in Crimea have been given unitl 3:00 GMT to surrender or face assault. The limit was stablished by the head of the Russian Black Sea Fleet Aleksander Vitko, threatening to attack “across Crimea”.
The Western Powers, specially the United States, have condemned these actions as a direct violation towards Ukraine’s sovereignity. (read more about the US threat towards Russia here)
Russia is now said to be in de facto control of the Crimea region.
Ukraine has ordered full mobilisation to counter the intervention.
No shots have yet been fired in the region, which has a majority of Russian speakers and a largely pro-Russian local government.
Will World War Three start today?
Want to know how it all started? Read the following articles:
The newly appointed head of Ukraine’s navy has sworn allegiance to the Crimea region, in the presence of its unrecognised pro-Russian leader. Rear Admiral Denys Berezovsky was only made head of the navy on Saturday, as the government in Kiev reacted to the threat of Russian invasion.
Two explosions have been heard in Simferopol, Crimea’s capital, with no official details yet available.
Nato’s chief has asked Russia to withdraw its forces to its bases.
“We call on Russia to de-escalate tensions… to withdraw its forces to its bases and to refrain from any interference elsewhere in Ukraine,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, speaking in Brussels.
Ukraine was a “valued partner” for Nato and should be allowed to determine its own future, he said.
Ukraine has ordered a full military mobilisation in response to Russia’s build-up of its forces in Crimea. (read more of the Russian troops beinf deployed here)
Prime Minster Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the country was “on the brink of disaster”.
US President Barack Obama has called Russian troop deployments a “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty”. (read more of the US threat here)
Nato is conducting emergency talks on the crisis. Its secretary-general has said Russia’s actions “threatened peace and security in Europe”.
Several other measures were announced on Sunday by national security officials:
- The armed forces would be put on “full combat readiness”.
- Reserves to be mobilised and trained
- Ukraine’s foreign minister will seek the help of US and UK leaders in guaranteeing its security
- Emergency headquarters to be set up
- Increased security at key sites, including nuclear plants.
- Airspace closed to all non-civilian aircraft.
Russian troops have been seen digging trenches on the Crimean border. Heavily armed groups (russian) continue to occupy key sites on the peninsula, including airports and communications hubs, although there has been no actual violence.
Some fear this is the start of World War III
Russia’s upper house of parliament has approved President Putin’s request for Russian forces to be used in Ukraine. He had asked that Russian forces be used “until the normalisation of the political situation in the country”. (read about what the US says of this here)
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based in the Ukrainian region of Crimea, where many ethnic Russians live.
Ukraine’s acting President Olexander Turchynov said he had put the army on full alert but urged people to remain calm. In a televised address, he asked Ukrainians to bridge divisions in the country and said they must not fall for provocations.
Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who was standing next to Mr Turchynov, said he was “convinced” Russia would not intervene militarily “as this would be the beginning of war and the end of all relations”.
Russia’s Vladimir Putin submitted the request for troops “in connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine and the threat to the lives of Russian citizens”, the Kremlin said.
The upper house went into a special session almost immediately after Mr Putin made the request, and swiftly approved it.
Some fear this is the start of World War III
The new pro-Russian leader of Ukraine’s southern Crimea region has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for help in maintaining peace, as international concerns mount that Moscow may intervene militarily in the crisis.
A Kremlin spokesman said Russia “will not disregard” Crimean Premier Sergey Aksyonov’s request for help “in maintaining peace and accord in Crimea.”
Aksyonov, who was installed as the region’s premier after armed men took over the Crimean parliament building Thursday, said security forces “are unable to efficiently control the situation in the republic,” in comments broadcast on Russian state channel Russia 24.
Consequently, he said, he was taking charge of security. His actions are also a response to Kiev’s actions in appointing a new police chief in Crimea on Friday without consulting the parliament, he said.
“I am appealing to Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide assistance in ensuring peace and accord” in Crimea, he said.
Russia could send a “limited” armed force to Crimea to ensure security of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and Russian citizens living there, the Speaker of Russia’s Upper House of Parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, said Saturday, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
The crisis in Crimea has echoed round the world, with the U.N. Security Council president holding a private meeting about the crisis enveloping Ukraine on Friday and world leaders calling on armed groups not to attempt to challenge Ukrainian sovereignty.
Russian police have made nearly 500 arrests at opposition rallies in the country’s two main cities, including several well-known protest figures.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was among those picked up in Moscow on Monday evening, as he attended an unapproved rally near the Kremlin.
He and others have appeared in court, charged with offences that entail a fine or detention of up to 15 days.
The rallies were called to protest at sentences passed on other activists.
Seven people had received prison terms of up to four years on Monday, for rioting and attacking police at a demonstration against Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a third presidential term in May 2012, in Bolotnaya Square, Moscow. Human rights organisation Amnesty International condemned the sentences as a “hideous injustice”, at the end of a “show trial”.
While the rallies on Monday in Moscow and St Petersburg were called to protest at the Bolotnaya sentences, some demonstrators also made shows of solidarity with the protesters in Ukraine, who brought down President Viktor Yanukovych last week.
U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned on Sunday that it “would be a grave mistake” if Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened militarily in the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
Rice was among U.S. leaders saying they want to see a unity coalition government in the country after President Viktor Yanukovych fled Kiev, the capital, and a unanimous vote in Parliament removed him from power.
“The United States is on the side of the Ukrainian people,” Rice said. The people expressed themselves peacefully, she said, and Yanukovych “turned on” the people by using violence against them.
Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, said there must be focus on forming a unity government. “Yanukovych needs to step aside, and I will say this: Now that the Olympics are over, we need to watch the behavior of the Russians,” she said.
Obama “needs to up his game and send a clear, unequivocal, public message to Putin not to interfere in what is happening in Ukraine,” Ayotte said, “to let the Ukrainian people determine their future, to ensure that there is no interference in their sovereignty.”
Will all this tension break into a third World War?