Russia sets Ukraine agenda with diplomacy, threats

Fears grew that Kremlin might carry out more land grabs in pro-Russian eastern Ukraine
Associated Press
Mar 3, 2014

Russia called for a national unity deal in Ukraine even as it tightened its stranglehold over Crimea, a bold combination of diplomacy and escalating military pressure. The U.S. and European Union floundered for solutions — while global markets panicked over the prospect of violent upheaval in the heart of Europe.

Fears grew that the Kremlin might carry out more land grabs in pro-Russian eastern Ukraine, adding urgency to Western efforts to defuse the crisis. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was heading to Kiev in an expression of support for Ukraine's sovereignty, and the EU threatened a raft of punitive measures as it called an emergency summit on Ukraine for Thursday.

But it was Russia that appeared to be driving the agenda.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a U.N. Human Rights Council session in Geneva that Ukraine should return to an agreement signed last month by pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych — but not Moscow — to hold early elections and surrender some powers. Yanukovych fled the country after sealing the pact with the opposition and foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland.

"Instead of a promised national unity government," Lavrov said, "a government of the victors has been created."

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities said that Russian troops had issued an ultimatum for two Ukrainian warships to surrender or be seized — prompting the country's acting president to accuse Russia of "piracy."

Ukraine's corvette Ternopil and the command ship Slavutych were being blocked by four Russian navy ships in Sevastopol's harbor, a Ukrainian military spokesman said. Acting president Oleksandr Turchynov said commanders and crew were "ready to defend their ships. ... They are defending Ukraine."

Vladimir Anikin, a Russian defense ministry spokesman, dismissed the report of a Russian ultimatum as nonsense but refused to elaborate.

Warning of a "dangerous escalation," the Obama administration said Washington would hold Moscow directly accountable for any threat to Ukraine's navy.

Russia is "on the wrong side of history" in Ukraine, President Barack Obama said, adding that continued military action would be "a costly proposition for Russia." Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Obama said the U.S. was considering economic and diplomatic options that will isolate Russia, and called on Congress to work on an aid package for Ukraine.

Still, it was not clear what the West could do to make Russia back down. The clearest weapon at the disposal of the EU and U.S. appeared to be economic sanctions that would freeze Russian assets and pull the plug on multi-billion dollar deals with Russia. Late Monday, the EU threatened to freeze visa liberalization and economic cooperation talks and boycott the G8 summit in Russia if Moscow does not back down.

Already the economic fallout for Russia was being intensely felt: Russia's stock market dropped about 10 percent on Monday and its currency fell to its lowest point ever against the dollar. But the economic consequences of antagonizing Russia were also acute for Western Europe: The EU relies heavily on Russian natural gas flowing through a network of Ukrainian and other pipelines.

By Monday, it was clear that Russia had complete operational control of Crimea.

Russian soldiers controlled all Crimean border posts, as well as all military facilities in the territory. Troops also controlled a ferry terminal in the Crimean city of Kerch, just 20 kilometers (12 miles) across the water from Russia. That intensified fears in Kiev that Moscow would send even more troops into the peninsula via that route.

Border guard spokesman Sergei Astakhov said the Russians were demanding that Ukrainian soldiers and guards transfer their allegiance to Crimea's new pro-Russian local government.

"The Russians are behaving very aggressively," he said. "They came in by breaking down doors, knocking out windows, cutting off every communication."

He said four Russian military ships, 13 helicopters and eight transport planes had arrived in Crimea in violation of agreements that permit Russia to keep its Black Sea fleet at the naval base in Sevastopol, but limits the deployment of additional forces at the base.

Ukraine's prime minister admitted his country had "no military options on the table" to reverse Russia's military moves into Crimea.

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk appealed for outside help and said Crimea remained part of his country, as European foreign ministers held an emergency meeting on a joint response to Russia's military push into Crimea.

"Any attempt of Russia to grab Crimea will have no success at all. Give us some time," he said at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

But he added that "for today" there were "no military options on the table." He said his country was "urgently" asking for economic and political support from other countries.

The fears in the Ukrainian capital and beyond are that Russia might seek to expand its control by seizing other parts of Ukraine in the pro-Russian east of the country, the country's industrial powerhouse and agricultural breadbasket.

Hague said "the world cannot just allow this to happen." But he, like other Western diplomats, ruled out any military action. "The U.K is not discussing military options. Our concentration is on diplomatic and economic pressure."

Faced with fears of more Russian aggression, Ukraine's new government has moved to consolidate its authority, naming new regional governors in the pro-Russia east picked among the country's wealthy businessmen.

By putting influential oligarchs in control of key eastern provinces, Kiev appears to be hoping that Russian-leaning citizens will be more willing to remain within the Ukrainian fold.

In Geneva, Lavrov attempted to deflect international blame back onto the West.

"Those who are trying to interpret the situation as a sort of aggression and threatening us with sanctions and boycotts, these are the same partners who have been consistently and vigorously encouraging the political powers close to them to declare ultimatums and renounce dialogue," Lavrov said.

"We call upon them to show a responsibility and to set aside geopolitical calculations and put the interests of the Ukrainian people above all."

Lavrov justified the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine as a necessary protection for his country's citizens living there. "This is a question of defending our citizens and compatriots, ensuring human rights, especially the right to life," Lavrov said.

Market reaction to the Russian seizure was furious Monday. On Wall Street, both the Dow Jones industrial average and the Nasdaq composite closed sharply down, while oil prices rose on fears that Russia, a major oil exporter, might face sanctions. In European trading, gold rose while the euro and stock markets fell.

The greatest impact was felt in Moscow, where the main RTS index was down 12 percent at 1,115 and the dollar spiked to an all-time high of 37 rubles. Russia's central bank hiked its main interest rate 1.5 percentage points Monday to 7 percent, trying to stem financial outflows.

Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, was also a big loser, its share price down 13 percent as investors worried about how it would get its gas to Europe if hostilities kept up, since much of it goes through Ukrainian pipelines.

Tension between Ukraine and Moscow rose sharply after Yanukovych was pushed out by a protest movement among people who wanted closer ties with the European Union. Yanukovych fled to Russia after more than 80 demonstrators were killed near Kiev's central square. He says he is still president.

Putin's confidence in his Ukraine strategy is underpinned by the knowledge that the nation's 46 million people have divided loyalties. While much of western Ukraine wants closer ties with the 28-nation European Union, its eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support.

Crimea is where Russia feels most at home in Ukraine: It is home to 2 million mostly Russian-speaking people and landlord for Russia's critical Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol.

 

Comments

Darwin's choice

Steve P, you should wait for the obamabots to explain how they look good wearing their azzes on their shoulders, then throw down the winning hand/video!

But, good video!!

obama/fail

grumpy

This one fits also, even if it is Clinton when she was Sec of State, she was so good doing that job. Here is an example of just how good she did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9...

Contango

Having been a student of body language; in the first video when Medvedev & Obama lean back in their chairs, they cross their legs away from one another.

They are not listening and are closed off from one another.

Question:

All previous presidents had foreign leaders as confidents and friends, e.g. Reagan/Thatcher, Bush/Blair, et. al.

Pres. Obama has alienated many and has shown that he needs no body - dangerous.

Peninsula Pundit

Oh Lord, now he's an ergonomics expert as well.

Contango

Re: "Oh Lord, (snip)"

The NSA listening scandal has alienated the leaders of Brazil, Germany, et. al.

Yea, the world quakes when the Paper Tiger-in-Chief meows. :)

thinkagain

You're not very good at sarcasm.

Contango says “Having been a student of body language…”

Only a doctor would be able to respond with this statement:
“Oh Lord, now he's an ergonomics expert as well.”

You ARE edumacated!

Steve P

Can't wait for clusterfan, deerdong & piddle pup to get up at the crack of noon to view these videos.

Contango

Pres. Obama, 2012 Pres. Debates:

“The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back. Because the Cold War has been over for 20 years."

Guess not.

A couple wks ago, Secy. of State Kerry said that climate change was "the greatest challenge of our generation."

Pres. Obama sees better relations with Russia and his Secy of State is worried about global warming????

So what EXACTLY IS the Obama admin.'s foreign policy?

Kinda looks like the Obama Admin. again, got caught with their pants down below their ankles on this one.

http://www.salon.com/2012/10/23/...

http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/16/po...

deertracker

What exactly would any of you do if you were the President? Let's hear it!

Contango

Re: "if you were the President?"

I know one thing: I wouldn't have wasted men and materials in Libya or threatened military action in Syria only to have Putin bail my *ss out like the Nobel Peace Prize Winner-in-Chief.

H*ll, you want him to "drone" Edward Snowden! Yea, Russia would LOVE that!

If Russia invades eastern Ukraine how will NATO react? THAT'S the question.

deertracker

Tell me what you WOULD do pooh. Also, military action was never threatened in Syria! Keep it real pooh. No need to lie. Don't change the question, answer it. Military intervention to destroy chemical weapons, not military action against the Syrians!

Contango

Re: "military action was never threatened in Syria!"

lol

It's handy for Obamabots to have poor memories isn't it?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/2...

I did answer 'turd. Like memory loss, you also can't read. :)

Consult with NATO - the U.S. IS a member.

Actually, the Mkt. is blowing it off - for now.

deertracker

Still don't see a direct quote HE made! A red line does not necessarily mean force. Answer the question pooh. What would you do?

Contango

"And that is why, after careful deliberation, I (Obama) determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike."

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-pr...

Early onset of Alzheimer’s 'turd?

For the third time: Consult with NATO, the EU and our other European allies.

Remember also: Pres. Obama is a 'lead from behind' kinda guy. Maybe he should phone Putin and ask him what he should do. :)

slightthroat212

it isn't just about Obama or the Republican party.....this is about one nation against another. For crying out loud, anyone who cannot see that, cannot see the writing on the wall. The politics of all of this is that politics leads no where but straight down. Stop crying about Obama or Bush or anyone else and look at the WORLD. That is where your sites need to be. I am just thankful that McCain isn't the President. We would all be dead right now. As many times as that man has preached "go to war" it should be his mantra for all times.

Contango

Re: "look at the WORLD."

Actually more focused on the "WORLD" mkts reaction.

"Asked whether the markets or the U.S. government has more influence in determining outcomes in Ukraine, Olsen told CNBC: 'I would suggest the markets.'"

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101463532

As is said: Money talks, bull (bleep) walks.

deertracker

Always about money with you.

Contango

Re: "Always about money with you."

Probably the reason you have none and as a senior will live off the charity of others.

'Course with your Alzheimer's you won't care about anything anyway. :)

Look at the economies of Russia and Ukraine and maybe you'll learn something, 'turd.

http://www.businessinsider.com/t...

deertracker

I'm not living off you! WTH do I care about Russia's economy? Why do you even care? Oh that's right, you are planning to move there! Enjoy!

Contango

With a crazy rant like that, it reads like your Alzheimer’s is full blown.

slightthroat212

@deertracker...I wouldn't have waited until NOW to start worrying about Russia. I wouldn't have backed down with the Syrian problem. sorry, no one has the right, whether civil unrest or not, to unleash chemical weapons. From that lax point on this country was a cooked duck. Too many deadlines came and went. Weakness showed. We said one thing, did another. So here comes Putin.

I would poise ships around the area and go on high alert in every military air base we have in Europe. Then I would send Putin a message: " Back off now, or our friends are getting our utmost help. You cannot rattle your sword and do this. You say we were wrong to do this very same thing, so why are YOU doing it? Two wrongs do not a right make. "

If he invades we pounce. We cannot show weakness a second time. Maybe it isn't our fight, but this guy is drawing a line in the sand. Do any of you want to wait and see what comes next if he crosses it?

deertracker

Do you have relatives in the military? There is no "maybe", it isn't our fight, PERIOD! We are not the police of the world. He is not drawing a line in OUR sand. America needs to mind America's business. We just can't save everyone. Also the President needs congressional approval to go to war so I highly doubt that he will get it.

Contango

Re: "Also the President needs congressional approval to go to war"

Two examples where you're wrong:

Pres. Obama's action in Libya.

Pres. Clinton's involvement in the Bosnian War.

deertracker

Answer my question, then go away!

Contango

Calm down. I've called the nurse, they're bringing your medication.

deertracker

You are a real piece of work! How does Mrs. Pooh do it?

The Big Dog's back

She hangs him up in a closet at 6 pm everyday.

Contango

Re: "You,"

"Stocks rally as Ukraine fears ease; best day of the year for Dow, S&P"

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101463916

Good Day! Made some money!

Ya still got any money left of your govt. check left over from the first, 'turd?

-----------------

Does lil' piddles need to go out again?

Peninsula Pundit

President Obama, President Obama, Blah, blah, blah.
Armed domestic terrorists kill police, overrun the Ukrainian legislature, put in an unelected parliament and appoint a new, unelected executive branch.
THEN, they ask NATO to come in and help them when their opposition does the exact same thing in other parts of the country.
And some of the mental giants on this board say since they asked for NATO's help, we just HAVE to go in.
Really?
Really?
We should not send our coin nor soldiers into this mess.
If Obama does, THEN he is in error.

Contango

Re: "since they asked for NATO's help, we just HAVE to go in."

The mental midgets forget that the U.S. is a member of NATO.

So if a foreign country invaded Mexico or Cuba attacked Guantánamo - no big deal huh?

The Big Dog's back

So you are ready to have NATO tell us what to do? Really?

Darwin's choice

Huh! So,what do you think of kerry/obama promising one BILLION in aid to the Ukraine? Wonder where that came from? Veterans pensions?

It'll be hidden about 10 pages back in the news...

obama/failure/failing

Peninsula Pundit

'Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, was also a big loser, its share price down 13 percent as investors worried about how it would get its gas to Europe if hostilities kept up, since much of it goes through Ukrainian pipelines.'
Maybe they could load it onto tankers and sell it to the US.
They say there's a shortage here.

Contango

Re: "Gazprom,"

Do you have energy investments or are you just blo'n?

WTI is over $100/barrel. The oil price to watch is Brent, which is more reflective of Europe.

grumpy

Its Bush's fault.

The Big Dog's back

Ignorant.

Darwin's choice

Ignorant is getting schooled by Sarah!

And Mitt!

Great job (not) by obama/fail again!

grumpy

It is as ignorant today as it was to blame bush 3 years ago, when left wingnuts blamed him for nearly everything obama did. Now we know that obama is bush's 3rd and 4th term, since obama extended and expanded many of the policies bush made. in 1980 folks were smart enough to vote out carter. Says a LOT about those who voted for him a second time, even though 9.3 million fewer voted for obama in 12. First time the number of presidential votes went down, must be the quality of the candidates also fell. Says a lot about what people think of the 2 parties we have.

It is almost as ignorant as pointing out that bush did it too, when obama does the same thing bush did, when most consider bush a failed president Comparing obama to another failed president is rather ignorant. I expect obama will be compared with carter in a few decades when the kool aide drinkers get over their hangovers... or would it be food posioning?

The Big Dog's back

Go back in your closet.

Darwin's choice

Kinda tough on you when someone kicks you right in the nuts, eh?

Good post Grumpy!

Contango

"Putin’s Ukraine Gambit Hurts Economy as Allies Lose Billions,"

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/20...

As I previously mentioned: Let the Mkts. take care of this situation.

Pres. Obama and his stooge Secy. of State Kerry are paper tigers meowin' loudly

Follow the money.