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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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