sexta-feira, 28 de fevereiro de 2014

What Is Russia’s Aim in Ukraine? With Military Moves Seen in Ukraine, Obama Warns Russia /The New York Times.

Striped areas indicate
provinces with significant
Russian-speaking populations.

The Opinion Pages|EDITORIAL/ The New York Times

What Is Russia’s Aim in Ukraine?

President Vladimir Putin of Russia played the genial host at the Olympic Games in Sochi, but his dangerous approach to geopolitics could be his true legacy.

On Friday, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Yuriy Sergeyev, said that Russian troops had taken control of two airports in Crimea and that the Russian Navy was blocking the Ukrainian Coast Guard.

Moscow denied that it had sent troops in. But the fact is, Russia was outrageously provocative when it put 150,000 troops on high alert on Wednesday for war games near Ukraine’s border and then on Friday, allowed the deposed Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, to give a news conference when he showed up in the Russian city Rostov-on-Don.

The situation has now gone from chaos to the verge of military confrontation. The pro-Russia region of Crimea is seething, and the new central government that took over in Kiev after Mr. Yanukovych fled is barely functioning.

Armed men patrolled the street outside Simferopol’s airport in the Crimea region of Ukraine on Friday.With Military Moves Seen in Ukraine, Obama Warns RussiaFEB. 28, 2014
President Obama, speaking at the White House, was right to warn Russia against any military move and to indicate that the United States would join the world in condemning a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. He also said that “there will be costs” for any intervention in Ukraine, though it was not clear what, if realistically anything, that might involve.

Mr. Obama spoke after armed men of uncertain allegiance took up positions at two airports in Simferopol, the regional capital of Crimea. Their military uniforms bore no insignia, and it was not obvious who they were or who was commanding them.

There were no immediate signs of confrontations or panic, but The Times reported that armored personnel carriers with Russian markings appeared on roads outside Simferopol, sometimes alone but at other times in long columns of military vehicles. It was unclear whether the movement was a Russian push to occupy the city, a show of strength or simply a routine rotation of Russian military equipment.

Russia has many military facilities in Crimea, where its Black Sea fleet is based, and the area has stronger historical ties to Russia than to Ukraine’s central government in Kiev. While promising to defend the interests of Russian citizens in Ukraine, Moscow has said it will not intervene by force.

But whether Mr. Putin will abide by that promise is unclear. In 2008, he sent Russian forces into neighboring Georgia, ostensibly to protect the secessionist Georgian enclave of South Ossetia; the real goal was to weaken the pro-Western government in Tbilisi.

Russia and the West both have legitimate interests in Ukraine and its future. Fomenting more tension in a country that is already in upheaval is not in anyone’s interests. Nor is encouraging a permanent break between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine.

Russia and the West need to work together to help stabilize the country politically and develop an economic and trade package that will begin to resolve the economic crisis.

Mr. Putin’s dangerous tactics are sure to backfire and do more to alienate Ukrainians than to encourage them to accept any Russian role in their nation’s future.


With Military Moves Seen in Ukraine, Obama Warns Russia

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s fragile new government accused Russia of trying to provoke a military conflict on Friday by invading the Crimea region, while in Washington President Obama issued a stern warning to the Kremlin about respecting Ukraine’s sovereignty, apparently in an effort to preclude a full-scale military escalation.

American officials did not directly confirm a series of public statements by senior officials in the new Ukrainian government, including its acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, that Russian troops were being deployed to Crimea, where Russia has a major naval base, in violation of the two countries’ agreements there.

Mr. Obama, however, cited “reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,” and he said, “Any violation of Ukrainian sovereignty would be deeply destabilizing.”

“There will be costs,” Mr. Obama said in a hastily arranged statement from the White House.

He said that Russian forces had captured the regional Parliament, as well as the headquarters of the regional government, and that they had sought to seize other targets, including vital communications hubs, and to block unspecified Ukrainian military assets.

United States officials said they believed that the unusual helicopter movements over Crimea were evidence that a military intervention was underway, but cautioned that they did not know the scale of the operation or the Russians’ motives.

Russia on Friday denied that it had or would encroach on Ukrainian territory, and claimed that any troop movements were in line with arrangements that allow it to station soldiers in the area.

Still, developments in Ukraine sent Ukraine’s interim government, appointed just the day before, deep into crisis mode as it confronted the prospect of an armed effort to split off Crimea, an autonomous region with close historic ties to Russia, from the Ukrainian mainland.
Analysts said the increase in the Russian presence in the area had parallels to steps Russia took before beginning a war with Georgia in 2008 over the largely ethnic Russian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but there was little to indicate whether President Vladimir V. Putin intended to escalate the challenge to Ukraine beyond the so-far nonviolent provocation of the mostly pro-Russian population in the region.

Mr. Turchynov, the acting president, also made comparisons to Georgia.

“They are provoking us into military conflict,” Mr. Turchynov said. “They began annexation of territory.”

In his address, Mr. Turchynov added, “I personally appeal to President Putin, demanding that he immediately stop the provocation and withdraw troops.”

The crisis in Crimea, along the Black Sea, is the latest development in a series of rapidly unfurling events that began after scores of people were killed in Kiev last week in a severe escalation of civic unrest that had been underway since late November.

Protests started after Russia pressured Viktor F. Yanukovych, then the president, to back away from sweeping political and free-trade agreements with the European Union that he had long promised to sign, setting off an East-West confrontation reminiscent of the Cold War.

After the recent killings, Mr. Yanukovych reached a tentative truce with opposition leaders in talks brokered by the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Poland, but within 24 hours he fled the capital, and an overwhelming majority of lawmakers voted to strip him of power, saying he had abandoned his position.

On Friday, a week later, Mr. Yanukovych resurfaced for a news conference in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, in which he said he was still the legitimate president and urged Russia not to intervene militarily in Crimea.

Mr. Obama’s warning suggested a deepening uncertainty among American officials about Mr. Putin’s intentions in the region despite a series of high-level contacts in recent days, including a telephone call between the two presidents one week ago. Mr. Yanukovych was an ally of Russia, and his toppling has left the Kremlin grappling for a response.

Washington has struggled to make sense of the events in Crimea. While American officials said that intelligence indicated that a Russian operation was underway, Mr. Obama stopped short of calling it an invasion. Part of the confusion, one official said, was that Russia routinely moves troops between military bases in Crimea.
Another American official said that intelligence reports from the region are “all over the place,” but that the administration believed that Russia had moved some of its forces into Ukraine, while some of the movement, officials said, seemed to be an increase in protective measures around Russian military installations.

Though he threatened an unspecified “cost” to Russia, Mr. Obama appeared to have limited options to respond to an intervention. Officials said he could cancel his participation in a Group of 8 meeting in Sochi, Russia, in June. The administration could also shut down talks on a potential trade agreement. Russia sent a delegation to Washington this week to explore closer trade and commercial ties.

Advice to Putin: Arrest Yanukovich, find the billions that he stole from the Ukrainian people and give it back to them. A Russian Robin Hood...
Jack Belicic 14 minutes ago
Goodbye Crimea; our ineffectual State Dept. and the more ineffectual EU can prepare their "condemnations". let us also await the theatrics...
Michael Simmons 15 minutes ago
Obama said "the United States would stand with the world to condemn a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty."What about the sovereignty of...

Crimea, a multi-ethnic region that was granted a large degree of autonomy in 1992 after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union, has long been a source of tension with Russia and is the headquarters of some of Russia’s most important military installations, including the headquarters of its Black Sea naval fleet.

As the international community reacted with consternation to the developments in Crimea, the Kremlin, as enigmatic as ever, remained largely silent.

Russian state television reported that Russian troops at arrived to secure the airport at Belbek, which is close to the Russian navy headquarters, but Russian officials did not confirm that information. The identity of gunmen who appeared at the Simferopol airport and at roadblocks on major roadways also remained unclear.
In a statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry acknowledged that the movement of armored vehicles from the base in Sevastapol had occurred “to ensure the security” of Russian forces, but added that the maneuvers were “fully in accordance” with the conditions of its lease, which was extended until 2042 as part of a deal in which Ukraine received discounts on Russian natural gas.

While the movement of Russian military vehicles, equipment and personnel is common in the Crimea, Friday’s activity was extremely unusual, local residents said. It involved a number of strange components, including the deployment of heavily armed soldiers, wearing uniforms with no identifying marks, at the region’s two main airports.

Before dawn, at Simferopol’s international airport, the soldiers initially posted themselves outside an administrative building, and through much of the day they did not interfere with departing or arriving flights.

By evening, however, the usual flight in from Kiev was canceled, and it was unclear whether any flights would go through Crimean airspace over the weekend. Similarly mysterious gunmen also appeared at a second airport, which is used for civil and military flights.

Journalists spotted a convoy of nine Russian armored personnel carriers on a road between the port city of Sevastopol, Russia’s main naval base, and Simferopol, the Crimean capital, a city of about 250,000. There were also unconfirmed reports that several planes carrying thousands of Russian soldiers had arrived in the Crimea on Friday night.

Even more unusual, a Ukrainian telecommunications company, Ukrtelecom, said “unknown people” had seized control of several communications hubs disrupting telephone and Internet service between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine. In a statement, the company pleaded with law enforcement agencies to take control of the situation.

While Western governments initially seemed hesitant to draw conclusions, officials in the new provisional government in Kiev said early Friday morning that they suspected Russian interference.

Mr. Turchynov, who is speaker of Parliament, immediately convened a meeting of the newly-formed National Security and Defense Council to discuss the events in the south.

David M. Herszenhorn reported from Kiev, Mark Landler from Washington, and Alison Smale from Simferopol, Ukraine. Reporting was contributed by Patrick Reevell from Simferopol, Oksana Lyachnyska from Kiev, and Michael D. Shear, Michael R. Gordon, Thom Shanker and Mark Mazzetti from Washington.

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