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Ukraine: Russia demands that 2 warships surrender

By Dalton Bennett & David McHugh

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 09:50 a.m. HST, Mar 03, 2014


KIEV, Ukraine >> Russia issued an ultimatum Monday, demanding that the crew of two Ukrainian warships in Crimea immediately surrender or be stormed and seized, a Ukrainian military spokesman said.

Four Russian navy ships in Sevastopol harbor were blocking the Ukrainian anti-submarine warship Ternopil and the command ship Slavutych from leaving the dock, waiting for their commanders' responses, spokesman Maksim Prauta said.

Vladimir Anikin, a Russian defense ministry spokesman in Moscow, dismissed the report of a Russian ultimatum as nonsense but refused to elaborate.

Elsewhere on the strategic peninsula, Russian troops controlled all Ukrainian border posts Monday in Crimea, as well as all military facilities and a key ferry terminal. Now, fears in Kiev and beyond were that Russia might target and seize other parts of Ukraine, in particular parts of its pro-Russian east, the country's industrial powerhouse and agricultural breadbasket.

As diplomats met in Brussels, Kiev and Geneva, warnings about the threat posed by Russia's military invasion were issued from a host of European capitals.

"We are in the most serious crisis for Europe since the fall of the (Berlin) Wall. Twenty-five years after the end of the conflict between east and west, there's a real danger of a split in Europe," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Brussels.

"Anyone who follows the news can see that the escalation isn't stopping. On the contrary, the threats from the Russian side are only getting louder," he added.

Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in Geneva to attend U.N. meetings, explained the reasoning behind Russia's military invasion of Crimea.

"This is a question of defending our citizens and compatriots, ensuring human rights, especially the right to life," he said.

There have been no reports, however, of any hostilities toward Russian-speakers in Ukraine during the country's four months of political upheaval.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also pressed hard Monday for Ukrainian politicians to return to the Feb. 21 agreement that promised to create a new unity government which would rule until an early election no later than December. The proposal seemed to be a non-starter for the West, however, for it would void the new government that Ukraine installed last week.

Tensions between the two former Soviet neighbors rose sharply after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was pushed out by a protest movement made up of people who wanted closer ties with the European Union, more democracy and less corruption. Yanukovych fled to Russia last month after more than 80 demonstrators were killed -- mostly by police -- near Kiev's central square but insists he is still president.

In Kiev, Ukraine's new prime minister admitted his country had "no military options on the table" to reverse Russia's military move into its Crimea region.

While Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk appealed Monday for outside help and insisted that Crimea still remained part of his country, European foreign ministers held an emergency meeting on a joint response that could include economic sanctions against Russia.

"Any attempt of Russia to grab Crimea will have no success at all. Give us some time," Yatsenyuk said at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev.

But he added that "for today" there were "no military options on the table." He said his country was "urgently" asking for economic and political support from other countries.

"The U.K is not discussing military options. Our concentration is on diplomatic and economic pressure," Hague said.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was heading to Ukraine on Tuesday after demanding that Russian President Vladimir Putin pull back from "an incredible act of aggression."

In the meantime, Russian forces were clearly in charge in Crimea, home to 2 million mostly Russian-speaking people and landlord for Russia's critical Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.

In addition to seizing barracks and border posts, troops also controlled a ferry terminal in the Ukrainian city of Kerch, just 12 miles across the water from Russia. That intensified fears in Kiev that Moscow will send even more troops into the peninsula via that route.

Border guard spokesman Sergei Astakhov said the Russians were demanding that Ukrainian soldiers and guards transfer their allegiance to Crimea's new pro-Russian local government.

"The Russians are behaving very aggressively. They came in by breaking down doors, knocking out windows, cutting off every communication," he said.

He said four Russian military ships, 13 helicopters and 8 transport planes had arrived in Crimea in violation of agreements that permit Russian to keep its Black Sea fleet at the naval base in Sevastopol.

Ukraine is also struggling on the financial front. The treasury is almost empty and its currency is under pressure after years of running large deficits. The International Monetary Fund said a fact-finding mission would visit Ukraine starting Tuesday for 10 days. Ukraine has asked the IMF for rescue loans and says it needs $35 billion to pay its bills over the next two years.

Market reaction to the Russian invasion of Crimea was immediate Monday. In European trading, gold and oil rose while the euro and stock markets fell. The greatest impact was felt in Moscow, where the main RTS index was down 12 percent at 1,115 and the dollar spiked to an all-time high of 37 rubles.

Russia's central bank hiked its main interest rate 1.5 percentage points Monday to 7 percent, trying to stem financial outflows.

Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, was also big loser, its share price down 13 percent as investors worried about how it would get its gas to Europe if hostilities kept up, since much of it goes through Ukrainian pipelines.

Putin has rejected calls from the West, insisting that Russia has a right to protect its interests and those of Russian-speakers anywhere in Ukraine. His confidence is matched by the knowledge that Ukraine's 46 million people have divided loyalties -- while much of western Ukraine wants closer ties with the 28-nation European Union, its eastern and southern regions like Crimea look to Russia for support and trade.

Faced with the Russian threat, Ukraine's new government has moved to consolidate its authority, naming new regional governors in the pro-Russia east, enlisting the support of the country's wealthy businessmen and dismissing the head of the country's navy after he declared allegiance to the pro-Russian government in Crimea.

NATO held an emergency meeting in Brussels and the U.S., France and Britain debated the possibility of boycotting the next Group of Eight economic summit, to be held in June in Sochi, the host of Russia's successful Winter Olympics.

___

Bennett reported from Kerch, Ukraine. Yuras Karmanau from Kiev, Raf Casert and Juergen Baetz from Brussels, Frank Jordans from Berlin and Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.







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manoamist wrote:
Not sure Putin needed to send in all these troops. A Bolshoi Ballet dancer with a pair of scissor could finish off this "paper tiger" we once called American Foreign Policy.
on March 3,2014 | 06:03AM
eoe wrote:
Yes, I remember the good old days when American used to throw around its weight in E Europe. Like remember how we boldly invaded in 1956 in the Hungarian Uprising and 1968 in the Prague Spring? We were really a superpower back then and showed those pesky Ruskies that we were no pushovers. And then remember how "W" stood on top of a tank in 2008 and stopped Russia when they invaded Georgia? Man, those were the days, not like this administration, they make it seem like there is nothing we can do when Russia invades border states 10,000 miles from our shores.
on March 3,2014 | 06:11AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Bush badly wanted a war with one of his "Axis of Evil", ...... N. Korea, Iran, or Iraq. ... So, he picked the weakest. One that couldn't fight back. (He thought).
on March 3,2014 | 07:13AM
FluidMotion wrote:
Have no fear, Obama promises to issue a strongly worded condemnation.
on March 3,2014 | 10:50AM
FluidMotion wrote:
Have no fear, Obama promises to issue a strongly worded condemnation.
on March 3,2014 | 10:53AM
eoe wrote:
Just like in 1956, 1968, and 2008.
on March 3,2014 | 11:47AM
soundofreason wrote:
"Obama also tried to zing GOP rival Mitt Romney in a debate for calling Russia a geopolitical threat. "The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because the Cold War's been over for 20 years," Obama quipped. Romney stood by his claim that Russia is a "geopolitical foe." In hindsight, Republicans say Obama has sent a series of signals like this to Moscow. "
on March 3,2014 | 06:05AM
serious wrote:
What Obama should have said was: "If you like your form of government you can keep it."!!!! I wish the heck he'd stick to OUR COUNTRY and stop voicing his international opinion which carries no weight. And STOP campaigning at $800,000 an hour on AF One.
on March 3,2014 | 09:14AM
kuroiwaj wrote:
And history has it that Crimea belonged to Russia and Russia gave Crimea up to Ukraine. This is the reason there are many Russian military areas in Crimea and many of the citizens speak Russian. Could it be that Russia is protecting its interest in Crimea because Ukraine government cannot protect Russian interests. Maybe the U.S. is stepping into a big pile of kukai on this one. Have not heard from Germany and Turkey on this current international affairs. Pres. Obama and Sec. Kerry seem to be blowing soap bubbles. Real bad and weak leadership.
on March 3,2014 | 10:35AM
Cricket_Amos wrote:
Exactly
on March 14,2014 | 05:43AM
soundofreason wrote:
"More recently, Obama faced off last year against Syria's Russia-backed Assad regime after drawing a "red line" over the movement and use of chemical weapons. Inspectors pointed to evidence that chemical weapons were used in that country, but the Obama administration ended up backing down, accepting an international deal -- which only has been partly completed -- to ship chemical weapons out of Syria. "

Russia sees our paper tiger president and out of concern, they just laugh.


on March 3,2014 | 06:08AM
hanalei395 wrote:
What Sound-of-Reason "sounds" like, ........he wants the "paper tiger president" to put boots on the ground ....in Ukraine
on March 3,2014 | 06:44AM
soundofreason wrote:
If he had the support of more than his daughters, I'd be worried. Congress won't back this. Won't back him - and Putin know it.
on March 3,2014 | 07:19PM
peanutgallery wrote:
Reminding progressives of the absolute inexperience displayed by Obama both during his first term, debates for second term, and his current lack of vision for America and its' role on the world stage does nothing. Kool-Aid infused progressives wouldn't care if Obama lied to them, used the IRS for personal gain, misled the nation and Congress about everything from Benghazi to Syria, or perpetrated the biggest fraud since Solindra by completely lying about Obama-care. They don't care. They love him, and worship the ground the media sweeps for him.
on March 3,2014 | 07:22AM
hanalei395 wrote:
"worship the ground" .......That's funny. Obama is killing peanuts. Of course, nothing is wrong with that.
on March 3,2014 | 07:49AM
kekelaward wrote:
Everybody laughs at him and no one takes him seriously. Things have the potential of getting out of hand very quickly. And much closer to our home than the Ukraine.
on March 3,2014 | 08:56AM
cojef wrote:
Yeah, mostly the North Koreans. They have been shooting missiles couple of days now, with no peep from us.
on March 3,2014 | 12:04PM
hanalei395 wrote:
Does your "peep" mean shooting down the missiles?
on March 3,2014 | 12:16PM
lee1957 wrote:
Your assessment sounds reasonable if you are a partisan, but the people of the U.S., acting through their Conress, made clear in no uncertain terms that military intervention in Syria had no support.
on March 3,2014 | 10:49AM
AhiPoke wrote:
We have a Nobel Peace Prize winner as our president. What is he going to do?
on March 3,2014 | 06:53AM
DanLBoom wrote:
Yeah!! I concur w/soundofreason...Draw another "Redline"??? good grief!! We NEED to keep our noses clean & out of other people's business. With the downsizing of our military?? Are you kidding me?? Super Power like Russia ???... I don't think so..We definetly don't want to p#@$ the Ruskies off.Imua
on March 3,2014 | 07:37AM
mplatte wrote:
Obama is playing "within" the rules of NATO. Yet many of you prefer the cowboy way of jumping the gun. The U.S actions in previous decades to exert it's ideals on the rest of the world through military might is what got us to our current state. I believe aligning with other world powers is the prudent thing to do. We can not continue to bully the world and expect others to not plot against us. Besides that, what do you want? Russia is still a military power
on March 3,2014 | 07:52AM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
mplatte says "Russia is still a military power." What he didn't mention is: The U.S. is no longer a military power, thanks to Obama.
on March 3,2014 | 08:32AM
eoe wrote:
Hmm, interesting perspective.
on March 3,2014 | 09:34AM
sailfish1 wrote:
What do you want? You want President Obama to lead a charge into Ukraine? Hahaha! Such idiocy!
on March 3,2014 | 11:14AM
HD36 wrote:
Reagan bluffed the Soviet Union into bankruptcy by first fixing the economic staglation at that time, and bluffing an arms race with SDI and Star Wars He did however giver the Pentagon a 7% top line budeged and we built an armada of aircraft carriers. The Soviet Union economically collapsed from within. Today the United States is the largest debtor nation in the history of the world. If we committed to boots on the ground in the Ukraine, what if China takes over the disputed islands from Japan and Israel attacks Iran or Syria attacks Saudi Arabia? Economic restraints dictate that we concentrate on national borders or else we'll go the way of the Roman Empire.
on March 3,2014 | 08:02AM
localguy wrote:
We do have treaties with some countries you mentioned. Would be hard to go against this. If Syria attacked Saudi Arabia the forces we already have there would stop them cold, reinforcements arriving within 24 hours. We have military equipment stored, ready to go, on Diego Garcia, can be re-positioned very quickly. And besides, Syrian military is nothing, would be wiped off the earth in a heart beat.
on March 3,2014 | 09:09AM
HD36 wrote:
You left out China and North Korea. You think the US could fight a war at all four corners of the globe simultaneously? Not for long.
on March 3,2014 | 07:18PM
eoe wrote:
Reagan was a clown and the USSR was a hollow empire long before star wars came along. But thanks for the History 101 From Glenn Beck lesson.
on March 3,2014 | 09:35AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Ronald Reagan, the Republican's clown and "cowboy". After Islamic terrorists bombed the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon, and killed 241 Marines, Reagan got his "revenge". Two days later, he attacked Grenada.
on March 3,2014 | 10:11AM
hanalei395 wrote:
It was Reagan's "proof" to the world, that he is no paper tiger. And the Republicans agree.
on March 3,2014 | 12:22PM
HD36 wrote:
The USSR was armed to the teeth with ICBMs with nuclear warheads. The arms race further accelerated their ecoomic collapse. David Stockman , former budget director under Ronald Reagan 103
on March 3,2014 | 07:16PM
Cricket_Amos wrote:
I searched for some logic in this statement but was unable to find it.
on March 14,2014 | 05:46AM
fiveo wrote:
If war is what Putin wants, then the Ukrainians should give him one, If they do not stand up to this aggression then they will nothing but a vassal state to Russia. Other than economic and diplomatic pressure the US and European Union will not be able to do much. Sometimes when faced with a bully there is no option but to face the situation head on even if there is little hope you can prevail. Look at what the Afgans did to the Russians when they invaded Afganistan. They made the cost to the Russians of staying there too high and they had to retreat.
on March 3,2014 | 08:06AM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Look at what the Afgans did to the Russians" ......And thanks to the U.S. support of billions of $$$$, high-tech weapons, and satelite tactical, strategic info., of which Ronald Reagan called his Islamic terrorists, who were fighting the People's Democratic Party of Afgahnistan ......"freedom fighters". (Osama bin Laden and friends were included in those "freedom fighters"). The "freedom fighters" later paid back the U.S.with 9/11. And now, where the Russians left off, the U.S. took over. And Russian Afghanistan vets are probably still laughing their as### off.
on March 3,2014 | 08:41AM
DAGR81 wrote:
Hanalei, do you have a life?
on March 3,2014 | 09:32AM
hanalei395 wrote:
DAG's life is stalking me. ... Weird DAG, the stalker.
on March 3,2014 | 09:58AM
localguy wrote:
You do remember during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, the USA was arming the rebels, to include shoulder fired Stinger anti aircraft missiles to counter their attack helicopters. Worked so well the Russians could not support their ground troops.
on March 3,2014 | 09:05AM
hanalei395 wrote:
I did say high-tech weapons. "Arming the rebels" evolved into those "rebels" paying the U.S. back with 9/11. And the present day rebels, after the U.S. took over for the Russians, are now downing U.S. helicopters.
on March 3,2014 | 09:42AM
lee1957 wrote:
An overly simplistic analysis at best.
on March 3,2014 | 10:57AM
DAGR81 wrote:
You are smart
on March 3,2014 | 08:25AM
Ken_Conklin wrote:
The President of Ukraine is surrendering to the Russian general, as follows: Now to avoid any collision of armed forces, and perhaps the loss of life, I do this under protest, and impelled by said force yield my authority until such time as the Government of Russia shall, upon facts being presented to it, undo the action of its representative and reinstate me in the authority which I claim as the President of Ukraine.
on March 3,2014 | 08:27AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I saw what you did there.
on March 3,2014 | 12:03PM
AhiPoke wrote:
Sure sounds like an invasion to me. Unfortunately the world is too powerless/wimpy to do anything about it. Putin is intent on reassembling the previous USSR and there's no one out there that can stop him.
on March 3,2014 | 08:46AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Putin is show his true colors as a former KGB thug. I wonder how Snowden likes his new friend,
on March 3,2014 | 08:58AM
saveparadise wrote:
The Russkies and China now see the U.S. leadership and Western Allies as weak bullies with a big mouth. This is their chance to rise and rule the world. The aggression will continue till we make a final stand with whoever remains as our allies. China is preparing for a short war with Japan, Philipines, Vietnam or whoever wants some and Europe will eventually fall to Russia. Hopefully war will not come to our homeland but we will be the super power no more unless we prove ourselves in the big one. Stay tuned all you naysayer doubters. Downsize our military?? Start learning to speak Russian and Chinese........
on March 3,2014 | 09:25AM
sailfish1 wrote:
What is the "big one" in which we must "prove ourselves"? Neither China nor Russia can invade the U.S.
on March 3,2014 | 10:54AM
eoe wrote:
Sounds apocalyptic. Better stockpile some guns and ammunition. Singlehandedly, Real Muricans (TM) like you will save the country from the Red Threat.
on March 3,2014 | 11:49AM
HD36 wrote:
I remember hearing the same tone when they said we must attack Vietnam or the communist would overun the world.
on March 3,2014 | 07:21PM
cojef wrote:
Like a Nazi attack of Poland long, long, ago. The "Cold War" reactivated! What happened to our crystal ball for predicting what our enemies were contemplating. They certainly caught us with our pants down.
on March 3,2014 | 12:00PM
loquaciousone wrote:
Way to go Vladimir. My muscle is bigger than yours.
on March 3,2014 | 12:01PM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Putin looked at Barry and said, "Dude! I'm just doing some community organizing down here in the Crimea, yo."
on March 3,2014 | 12:04PM
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