Moscow’s move to occupy Crimea with Russian troops is a declaration of war on Ukraine according to interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.
“This is actually a declaration of war on my country. We urge Putin to pull back his troops from this country and honour bilateral agreements. If he wants to be the president who started a war between two neighboring and friendly countries, he has reached his target within a few inches,” said Yatsenyuk, warning, “We are on the brink of disaster.”
Although there has been no violence, Russian troops now occupy key positions throughout the Crimean peninsula, including airports and communication hubs.
Kiev’s post-overthrow government responded by ordering a full military mobilization of Ukrainian forces. BBC News reports that Russian troops are surrounding Ukrainian army bases in addition to, “digging trenches on the border with mainland Ukraine.”
Many Ukrainian armed forces in Crimea resigned their positions and are expected to take military oaths and switch sides, according to reports.
Although technically part of Ukraine, Crimea is an Autonomous Republic and authorities there have firmly sided with Russia over the conflict. Vladimir Konstantinov, Chairman of the republic’s Supreme Council, urged NATO not to send troops into the region.
“We have not asked NATO to send troops. This land belongs to the Russian world. We would like everyone to remember that. It’s a millennium-old history. The people of Russia and Ukraine belong to the Russian world,” said Konstantinov.
US Secretary of State John Kerry reacted by issuing a series of threats, warning that Russia could be kicked out of the G8, or that the U.S. could freeze Russian business assets and precipitate a collapse of the rouble.
President Barack Obama said that Russian troop movements represent a “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty”.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that 675,000 Ukrainians left Ukraine for Russia in January and February over fears that a humanitarian catastrophe was unfolding.
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