• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 10:37pm

Biggest showdown since cold war as Putin declares right to invade Ukraine

Ukraine on 'brink of disaster' after Putin defends right to invade in call with Obama

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 March, 2014, 1:15pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 March, 2014, 5:05pm

The West is facing its biggest confrontation with Russia since the cold war, with Ukraine mobilising for war and calling up its reserves after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the right to invade his neighbour.

Ukraine's new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, warned any invasion "would mean war and the end of all relations between the two countries".

"We are on the brink of a disaster," Yatsenyuk told the nation in a televised address. "This is not a threat. This is a declaration of war on my country."

Watch: Ukraine mobilises army after Russia's threat to invade

Ukraine's defence ministry was ordered to conduct the call-up, potentially of all men up to 40 in a country that still has universal male conscription.

China's Foreign Ministry said it was "deeply concerned" by what was happening in Ukraine. China has so far shown little public interest in participating in any financial aid for Ukraine, or getting involved diplomatically, in line with the low-key approach it takes to many international crises.

"China will keep closely monitoring developments, and calls on all sides to find a political resolution via dialogue and negotiations," the ministry said.

Russian forces who have already bloodlessly seized Crimea - an isolated Black Sea peninsula where most of the population is ethnic Russian and where Moscow has a naval base - yesterday tried to disarm the small Ukrainian contingents there. Some Ukrainian commanders refused to give up weapons and bases were surrounded.

Putin's declaration he had the right to invade his neighbour - for which he quickly received parliament's approval - resulted in a 90-minute phone call between President Barack Obama and Putin, the kind of direct confrontation between the men rarely seen since the end of the cold war.

"President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia's clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law," the White House said after the leaders spoke on Saturday.

We are on the brink of a disaster. This is not a threat. This is a declaration of war
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's PM

A statement posted on Putin's website said that in his conversation with Obama, he defended his actions, citing "the provocative and criminal actions on the part of ultra-nationalists who are in fact being supported by the current authorities in Kiev".

Ukraine Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya said he sent a request to Nato to "examine all possibilities to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine".

Ukraine also appealed for help to Britain and the United States, as co-signatories with Moscow to a 1994 accord guaranteeing Ukraine's security after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Washington and its allies have suspended preparations ahead of a G8 summit in Sochi, where Putin had just finished staging his US$50 billion winter Olympic Games. But the US and other Western governments have few options to counter Russia's military moves.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, interviewed on news shows yesterday, raised the possibility of boycotting the summit.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, meanwhile, left for Kiev to meet Ukraine's new leaders.

At Kiev's Independence Square, thousands demonstrated against Russian military action. Speakers delivered rousing orations and placards read: "Putin, hands off Ukraine!"

So far there has been no sign of Russian military action outside Crimea, but Kiev officials accused Moscow of being behind the pattern of violent protests in eastern cities.

Additional reporting by Associated Press, Agence France-Presse


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This article is now closed to comments

Newgalileo: China was equally silent when the USA was invading/droning/killing & displacing thousands in the world today. That's call non-interference. Not like your big brother Uncle Sam that puts its dirty finger into everyone's porridge.
The current western-backed authorities are illegitimate, let's hope Russia invades and restored the elected government; just like in Syria, the west has no problems supporting terrorists and fringe groups to unstabilise the region and profit from it.....
this fiasco is caused by both western counterpart and Russia. an elected party leader was ousted by coup and replaced illegally by the siege on the parliament.
it was a calculated move orchestrated by western to impose their values on a so called democratic movement and by inching closer to nato, of course Russia feels its concern is threaten. afterall, it is happening at their backyard and not to mention the significant value of crimea.
there are much at stake for Russia to lose in this sudden abrupt changes which is precisely why they had to protect themselves but occupying another part of country is just unnecessary as well. it creates more uncertainty and tension.
anytime outsiders pokes their finger into other internal affairs, there are bound to be problems.
if the ppl of Ukraine wants a fair shake and feel the current govt has failed them, then let them settle this in another election but this has to be done fairly and peacefully and between themselves and again, outsiders should just butt out.
democratic values are systematically abuse here and imposed not by the will of the majority but rather on the pretext of democracy itself and self interest.
China is "against interfering in other countries' internal affairs". But it is silent about Russia. Says it all, doesn't it.
Is China Ukraine or Russia? Says it all, doesn't it.
As a Finnish citizen I oppose to this move by Russians.
I am worried that they use the same excuse in the future against Finland - need to "protect" the Russians living in Finland.
They did try to take Finland already once but failed.


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