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Obama warns of ‘costs’ for military intervention in Ukraine

DPA Washington | Updated on March 01, 2014 Published on March 01, 2014

US President Barack Obama has expressed deep concern about reports of Russian military movements in Ukraine.

US President Barack Obama responded on Friday to reports of Russian military movements in Ukraine by warning that “there will be costs” to any military action in Ukraine.

Obama interrupted his schedule to make a brief statement to presspersons at the White House in which he also expressed deep concern about the reports of the Russian military movements.

“Any violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilising, which is not in the interests of Ukraine, Russia or Europe,” Obama said. “It would represent a profound interference in matters that must be determined by the Ukrainian people.” Military intervention would invite the condemnation of nations around the world and “the US will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine,” he said.

Armed men take control of airports in Crimea

The situation in Ukraine intensified on Friday when armed men took control of two airports in the southern peninsula of Crimea, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reported.

A group of armed men seized the airport of Simferopol, the peninsula’s capital city. About 50 of them in military uniform arrived in three trucks without licence plates, surrounding the domestic terminal before occupying other parts of the airport, Interfax said.

Armed men, described by Interior Minister Arsen Avakov as Russian naval forces, also took control of a military airport near the port of Sevastapol where the Russian Black Sea Fleet has a base.

Russia said it had neither deployed troops nor had any role in blockading the airport. It conceded, however, that it had stepped up measures by “anti-terror units” to protect members of its fleet stationed in the region.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, said the Russian forces present in the Crimea were within the framework of an agreement with Ukraine to station Russian troops at a base in Sevastopol.

Churkin called on all sides in Ukraine to move ahead with political changes democratically and in line with the February 21 peace agreement.

“The government, which was formed, cannot be described ... as a government of national unity,” Churkin said. “They need to refrain from conducting a hasty presidential election... they need to stop trying to intimidate other regions and other political forces.”

Viktor Yanukovych said on Friday he remains President of Ukraine and declared that he is “ready to fight for the future” of the country, a week after he was deposed from power and fled to Russia.

“I am the legitimately elected President of Ukraine,” Yanukovych said in a defiant news conference held near the Ukrainian border.

He called for Ukraine to stick to an EU-backed deal agreed to last week that envisioned constitutional reforms followed by elections in December. That compromise, however, was made irrelevant when Yanukovych left the country.

On February 22, the Ukrainian parliament overwhelmingly voted to impeach Yanukovych for abuse of office and called presidential elections for May 25 — polls the former leader called “illegitimate.” The nation of 45 million must remain united, Yanukovych said, amid fears of separatism in the Russian-majority region of Crimea.

He added that he was opposed to military intervention by Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke by telephone with European leaders — including British Prime Minister David Cameron, EU President Herman Van Rompuy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — to assure them that de-escalating tensions in the former Soviet state was an “absolute priority,” according to the Kremlin.

In New York, the UN Security Council met privately to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. The country’s UN ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, called on the council to take action against the escalating situation, calling Russia’s involvement “an act of aggression.” He asked the Security Council to consider the situation in Ukraine serious and to assist in stopping the developments. “We are strong enough to defend ourselves,” he added. “We have a spiritual feeling that we are right.” The ambassador said 10 Russian military transport airplanes and 11 helicopters had entered Crimea.

Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, called for the creation of an international mediation mission to Crimea to help facilitate a political dialogue. Power said the mission should be made up of members that are seen as “independent and credible.” Mark Lyall Grant, British ambassador to the UN, said he was deeply concerned about the situation and called on any troops that “do no answer to the Ukrainian government” to pull out.

Published on March 01, 2014
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