Russian Stronghold in Ukraine Preparing to Fight the Revolution
On Wednesday, just as the violence in Kiev was reaching its cadence, Yermakova sent an appeal to the Kremlin asking Russia to send in troops to “prevent a genocide of the Russian population of Crimea.” The revolution, she wrote in a missive to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is being carried out by mercenaries with funding from Europe and the United States “with only one goal in mind: the destruction of the Russian world.”
Though the Kremlin has not yet responded to her plea for help, Russia used a similar appeal as a pretext for the land invasion of South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia, in 2008. That August, Russia claimed that the people of South Ossetia were at risk of genocide when the Georgian military tried to take control of the rebel region by force. Russia responded by sending in its tanks, and after a weeklong war, it seized a fifth of Georgia’s territory, including all of South Ossetia.
On Saturday afternoon in Crimea, around 3,000 ethnic Russians came out to appeal for the protection of Moscow at a demonstration in the main square of Sevastopol, a short walk from the warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. “There isn’t even any need for Russia to invade,” Yermakova, who organized the demonstration, told TIME on the square. “They are already right here.”
Earlier that day, a senior delegation of Russian diplomats arrived in Ukraine to assess their options. In the eastern city of Kharkiv, they met with about 3,000 local and municipal officials from the deposed government, all of them from the pro-Russian regions of eastern and southern Ukraine. The deposed President Viktor Yanukovych, who had fled to Kharkiv from Kiev earlier that day, did not attend. Together, pro-Russian Ukrainian officials and the Russian delegation passed a resolution denouncing the revolutionary leaders as “extremists and terrorists.”
– see more, from time – Lawmakers and worried citizens in the pro-Russia Crimea consider their options
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) – Russia granted protection to the fugitive Ukrainian president, Russian media reported Thursday, as dozens of heavily armed gunmen seized control of government buildings in Ukraine’s Crimea region and raised the Russian flag.
The moves pose an immediate challenge to Ukraine’s new authorities as they seek to set up an interim government for the country, whose population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West. Some 150,000 Russian soldiers carried out military exercises and fighter jets patrolled the border.
A respected Russian news organization reported that President Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven out of Kiev by a three-month protest movement, was staying in a Kremlin sanatorium just outside Moscow.
“I have to ask Russia to ensure my personal safety from extremists,” Yanukovych said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies on Thursday. He said he still considers himself president.
Shortly after, the same three Russian news agencies quoted an unnamed Russian official saying that Yanukovych’s request for protection “was satisfied on the territory of Russia.”
Oleksandr Turchynov, who stepped in as acting president after Yanukovych’s flight, condemned the takeover of government buildings in Crimea as a “crime against the government of Ukraine.” He warned that any move by Russian troops off of their base in Crimea “will be considered a military aggression.”
– from foxphilly
Dozens of armed men seized the regional government administration buildings in Ukraine’s southern Crimean region Thursday and raised the Russian flag in a challenge to the Eastern European country’s new leaders.
Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula with an ethnic Russian majority, is the last big bastion of opposition to the new political leadership in the capital, Kiev, after President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster Saturday.
The seizure, coming a day after Russia ordered surprise military exercises on Ukraine’s doorstep, has raised fears about the push and pull of opposing allegiances in a country sandwiched between Russia and the European Union.
There’s a broad divide between those who support developments in Kiev — where parliament was voting on an interim West-leaning, national unity government Thursday — and those who back Russia’s continued influence in Crimea and across Ukraine.