Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Putin calls troops back from military exercises

March 4, 2014 (USA Today) Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered troops taking part in military exercises to return to base, Reuters is reporting, based on word from Russian news agencies. The news agencies attributed the information to Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Kremlin. The exercises that took place across western Russia, bordering Ukraine, were a success, Reuters reported Peskov said. Russia denies the exercises were tied to simmering developments in the Ukraine, according to Reuters. Earlier, a Russian admiral issued an ultimatum to Ukraine's military in Crimea to surrender as Moscow said the crisis can be defused if the country agrees to take back its ousted pro-Moscow president. Amid rising international tensions, the Pentagon halted all military cooperation with Russia, including exercises and meetings, Rear Adm. John Kirby said. There were broader economic actions as well. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman's office said it suspended upcoming bilateral trade and investment talks with Russia. "Due to recent events in Ukraine, we have suspended upcoming bilateral trade and investment engagement with the Government of Russia that were part of a move toward deeper commercial and trade ties," the Froman's office said in a statement. The Russian warning came as British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday called the standoff in Ukraine the "biggest crisis in Europe of the 21st century." In Washington, President Obama said Russia is "on the wrong side of history'' by intervening in Ukraine. He said he is considering diplomatic and economic steps to isolate Moscow. "Over time this will be a costly proposition for Russia, and now's the time for them to consider whether they can serve their interests in a way that resorts to diplomacy as opposed to force," Obama said from the Oval Office. The U.S. originally estimated that 6,000 Russian troops were dispatched to Crimea, but Ukraine's mission to the United Nations said Monday that 16,000 had been deployed. That stoked fears that the Kremlin might carry out more land grabs in pro-Russian eastern Ukraine. The whole article is available at

Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2nd L) shakes hands with the Commander of the Western Military District Anatoly Sidorov at the Kirillovsky firing ground in the Leningrad region, on March 3, 2014, with Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (2nd R) attending. AFP PHOTO