Monday, March 10, 2014

Russia moves more troops into Crimea

A convoy of hundreds of Russian soldiers in about 50 troop trucks drove into a base near Crimea's capital Simferopol. The convoy was accompanied by eight armoured vehicles, two ambulances, petrol tankers and other hardware. Russia says its only troops in Crimea are those normally stationed there with its Black Sea Fleet, an assertion Washington calls "(President Vladimir) Putin's fiction". Mr Lavrov has said the Ukrainian government was taking orders from extremists and denied Moscow had any direct role in the crisis in Crimea. "The interim government... is not independent. It depends, unfortunately, on radical nationalists who carried out an armed coup," he told a news conference in Moscow. The head of Russia's upper house of parliament, after meeting visiting Crimean politicians yesterday, said that Crimea had a right to self-determination, and ruled out any risk of war between "the two brotherly nations".
However, yesterday’s incident has led Poland to evacuate its consulate in Sevastopol, according to Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. Mr Sikorski said on Twitter: "Because of continuing disturbances by Russian forces there, we have reluctantly evacuated our consulate in Crimea, Ukraine." Senior Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from prison after Viktor Yanukovych's overthrow, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dublin and appealed for immediate EU sanctions against Russia, warning that Crimea might otherwise slide into war. Brussels and Washington rushed to strengthen the new authorities in economically shattered Ukraine, announcing both political and financial assistance.
The regional director of the International Monetary Fund said talks with Kiev on a loan agreement were going well and praised the new government's openness to economic reform and transparency.

A Russian soldier patrols the small anti-submarine ship 'Muromets' in the port of Sevastopol