Ukraine Accuses Russia Of Military Invasion, UN To Hold Meeting On The Crisis
Ukraine accused Russia of a "military invasion and occupation" on Friday, saying Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports on its strategic Crimea peninsula.
Russia kept silent on those accusations but confirmed that armored vehicles from its Black Sea Fleet were moving around Crimea for "security" reasons as the crisis deepened between two of Europe's largest countries.
Any Russian military incursion in Crimea would dramatically raise the stakes in Ukraine's conflict, which saw pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych flee last weekend after three months of anti-government protests. Yanukovych vowed Friday at a news conference in Russia to "keep fighting for the future of Ukraine," though he called any military action "unacceptable."
Moscow has vowed to protect Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Crimea, where it has a major naval base, and Ukraine and the West have warned Russia to stay away. Russia did not confirm its troops were involved in Friday's action in Crimea, which would be a major escalation.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to warn Moscow against military moves in Crimea, saying they could further inflame tensions in Ukraine.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday and expressed concern about any destabilization of Ukraine, her government said. She said any step that could contribute to an escalation should be avoided and "called for restraint with a view to Crimea," Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement.
In Kiev, Ukraine's parliament adopted a resolution demanding that Russia halt steps it says are aimed against Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and called for a U.N. Security Council meeting on the crisis.
Meantime, the U.N. Security Council will hold private consultations to discuss the crisis in Ukraine.
U.N spokesman Martin Nesirky said the council had scheduled a meeting Friday afternoon. The announcement came hours after Ukraine said Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports in its Crimean peninsula, and sought help from the council to help protect it from its powerful neighbor.
Russia, which has a major naval base in Crimea, has confirmed only that armored vehicles from its Black Sea Fleet were moving around Crimea for security reasons.
However, any action by the Security Council is highly unlikely because Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member and can block any action.