News / Europe

Russia to Unveil Solution to Ukraine Crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi, March 10, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi, March 10, 2014.
VOA News
Russia plans to unveil its own solution to the Ukraine crisis, a plan that is likely to run counter to U.S. proposals.

"We prepared, together with members of the Russian Security Council, our counter-proposals. They aim to resolve the situation on the basis of international law and take into account the interests of all Ukrainians without exception," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a televised meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

At a meeting with Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Lavrov said he received proposals from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry which "did not completely satisfy us."  Lavrov also said Kerry had declined an invitation to visit Russia for further talks.

On Monday the State Department clarified Kerry's stance, saying the top U.S. diplomat needs concrete evidence that Russia will stop its military advance into Ukraine and engage seriously in American diplomatic proposals to de-escalate the crisis before meeting with Lavrov.

Moscow has consistently described the ouster of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych as the illegal overthrow of a legitimate head of state. Russian news agencies report Yanukovych is expected to make his second public appearance since stepping down and fleeing Kyiv last month on Tuesday.

Meantime, NATO will start reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in Ukraine, the alliance said Monday. Ukraine is not a NATO member but Russia's actions in Crimea have alarmed neighboring countries, including alliance members that used to be dominated by the Soviet Union.

Referendum

Russian forces have tightened their grip on Crimea as authorities in the breakaway territory push their proposal to join Moscow, a decision it plans to put to a referendum on March 16.

The U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said Monday that the United States is still ruling out possible military action in Crimea. Geoffrey Pyatt said any diplomatic solution must address Moscow’s interests in the strategically important peninsula. Pyatt reiterated that the U.S. will not recognize the results of the "so-called" referendum in Crimea set for March 16.

The White House said Monday that President Barack Obama began a new round of diplomatic consultations on Ukraine with phone calls to Chinese President Xi Jinping, Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Despite international objections, the chief of Crimea's election commission said Monday that he is moving ahead with preparations for next Sunday's unification referendum. Myhkailo Malyshev said all registered Crimean voters are eligible to vote.

Putin has defended the separatist drive in Crimea as consistent with international law, and a regional leader said Ukrainian troops remaining there should leave the territory unless they renounce their loyalty to Kyiv.

Crimea has invited observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to monitor the referendum, according to Russia's RIA news agency.
On Saturday, an unarmed observer mission from the same Vienna-based group tried to cross into Crimea but had to turn back after warning shots were fired.

Ukrainian interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk vowed Sunday not to give up "a single centimeter" of territory.

Yatsenyuk is scheduled to meet Obama on Wednesday to discuss the standoff over Crimea, a strategic peninsula in southern Ukraine with a Russian-speaking majority. A White House statement said the visit will highlight the United State's strong support of the people of Ukraine, and will include talks on economic aid and preparations for May elections there.

Shots fired

Meanwhile, Ukraine's defense department said armed men in uniforms surrounded and seized a Crimean naval base at Chernomorskoye, and a military hospital in Simferopol. The New York Times newspaper reported police interrupted an interview with a local man in Chernomorskoye, threatening its reporters and seizing their notes.

Reporters Without Borders said Monday that unidentified gunmen seized two female Ukrainian journalists in Crimea. The group warned that attacks on the media were attempts to turn the region into a "black hole for news."

Rival demonstrations

As demonstrators staged rival rallies in Crimea and throughout Ukraine, street violence flared in Sevastopol when pro-Russian activists and Cossacks attacked a group of Ukrainians.

Despite the reports, Russia has accused far-right activists in Ukraine and the pro-Western Kyiv government of creating "chaos." A statement released Monday from the Russian foreign ministry, which singled out the far-right Ukrainian group "Right Sector," also accused Western governments of ignoring the violence.

Russia denies it has troops on the peninsula beyond those regularly stationed with its Sevastopol-based Black Sea fleet. Ukraine's much smaller navy is also based in the Crimean port city.  Witnesses say although the soldiers have no insignia identifying them, they are clearly Russian.

Some information in this report was provided by Reuters news agency.

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Comments page of 2
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by: Godwin from: Nigeria
March 10, 2014 7:34 AM
The question of pulling Crimea out of Ukraine may not be in the best interest of Russia. If anything, Russia needs Russian speaking people inside Ukraine to be able to maintain relations as well as ensure future of it for the two countries. In other words, it may be necessary for Russian support at such organizations as UN, NATO, EU and other organizations where voting might be in the interest of Russia one way or another - at least it should be sure that with its Russian population, Ukraine may not be able to outrightly go against Russia at least some of the times.

However, I do not see what makes one wrong justifiable against another. The government now in Kiev is there by illegal means, how can it neut or void another illegality in Crimea seeking for self actualization? Even to demand for it through vote or referendum, with some days of notice is better justification that sacking of a sitting government by mob action. If Obama recognizes Oleksandr and refuses to do same to the Crimean referendum, it displays another weakening agenda for USA. Whether China is in support or not does not justify the US support for illegality in Kyiv.
In Response

by: George from: US
March 10, 2014 12:21 PM
Why do you think the current interim government is illegal? It came on the wake of unprecedented public disgust with the criminal president, who was increasingly becoming a bloody tyrant. The interim government meanwhile is elected by the existing parliament and democratic presidential elections are called in May. What's illegal here? Russia pushes hard this thesis through the media all over the world, but it clearly does it for its own geopolitical gains and purposes, such as for example annexation of Crimea, or possibly other interventions. Speak of legal/illegal here.

by: Hey from: France
March 10, 2014 7:31 AM
If we don't stop Russia,tomorrow it will attack your country and there will be countries,who will support the actions like this. Russia started preparations for World War 3. In coming years we will see annexations in different parts of world which ignites WW3
In Response

by: Hong Ha from: Vietnam
March 10, 2014 11:10 AM
Really??? I think France is the more warlike country. History has proved that. France has invaded more countries that Russia did in history: Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Algeria....France even invaded Russia and many European countries. So France is the real danger to world peace.

by: Le Dat from: Vietnam
March 10, 2014 4:20 AM
I do not think Vietnam will isolate Russia in case Crimea becomes Russia's territory again because it is the job of Russia, Ukraine and Crimea. It is not our affairs so we will continue co-operate with Russia, Ukraine and even Crimea. We are not stupid enough to end relations with them!

by: Huang Jun from: China
March 10, 2014 4:03 AM
Hey, we, the Chinese, think it is unnecessary to isolate Russia if Crimea is returned to Russia because it is not our business. We will continue to co-operate with Russia for years or centuries to come.
In Response

by: Mattias from: Sweden
March 10, 2014 4:24 PM
Hey, how do you know what the Chinese think? Neither China nor Russia is a democrasy, except for those who live on the island of Formosa of course.

by: Artur from: Hungary
March 10, 2014 3:51 AM
Ukrainians are very brave nation. We should help them and support in any possible way. USA should increase number of green card for Ukraine and EU to lift or ease restrictions on visa matters with Ukraine. At the same time, USA and EU must defend Ukraine from Russia.
In Response

by: George from: Russia
March 10, 2014 7:49 AM
But why USA and EU should be interested in it? Voice of democracy against big angry Russia?
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