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Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Ukraine asks NATO, UN for help as Russians move in; new government mobilizes military

The news out of Ukraine just keeps getting worse.

In the wake of the Russian parliament’s vote to endorse (or rubber stamp) Vladimir Putin’s already scripted invasion of its neighbor, the new Ukranian government is appealing to the international community for help and mobilizing its military, fearing that Putin has designs on more than just the Crimean Peninsula, where Russian troops are moving in with the help of Russian sympathizers.

A recap of the latest developments:

  • Ukraine’s prime minister declared that his country was on “the brink of disaster” and asked the international community to provide help to his country in the face of Russian aggression.
  • The Ukranian military is calling up its reservists while Russian troops continue to encircle its bases in the Crimean Peninsula. Russia has its own bases on the Peninsula, which it leases under a long-term agreement that was drawn up in the 1990s. Its Black Sea Fleet is headquartered in Sevastopol.
  • The BBC is reporting that the man recently appointed to head up Ukraine’s navy has defected, swearing allegiance to the Crimean region, “in the presence of its unrecognised pro-Russian leader”.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on three Sunday talk shows to warn that Russia faces expulsion from the G-8 (Group of 8), as well as other consequences (which could include travel bans on leading Russian officials, cancellation of work on a new trade agreement, the freezing of assets) if it does not cease its aggression in Ukraine.
  • A spokesman for Putin, who evidently anticipated the backlash, was dismissive of Kerry’s warning. “It’s not a minus for Russia… it will be a minus for the G-8,” said the spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov. Peskov and his boss must be aware that the G-8’s other democracies (at least four so far, including Canada and the United States) are threatening to cancel their participation in the G-8 as well. How is the collapse of this year’s summit, which is a very real possibility at this point, not a minus for Russia?
  • NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen convened an emergency meeting of the twenty-eight nation alliance in Brussels to discuss Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, and what steps NATO might take in response. Ukraine is not a member of the alliance, but it does send an ambassador to NATO.
  • British Foreign Secretary William Hague traveled to Kiev to meet with his Ukranian counterparts. The United Kingdom, which has strongly condemned Russia’s incursion, is offering assistance and diplomatic support.

The U.S. Department of State has just announced that Kerry will follow suit. He will head to Kiev on Tuesday to offer U.S. assistance and diplomatic support.

So far, the strongest responses to Russia’s aggression have come from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and France. All four nations have publicly announced the suspension of preparations to attend the G-8 summit in Sochi.

The other G-8 nations (aside from Russia) are Germany, Japan, and Italy. Germany and Italy are also members of NATO.

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