Russia Claims Troops In Ukraine To Defend Citizens, Emergency Meeting Called By European Leaders


UPDATED: Monday March 3, 2014 9:31 AM

There are fears that Moscow will send even more troops into Ukraine's Crimea region.
    
Pro-Russian troops are controlling a ferry terminal on the easternmost tip of Crimea, close to Russia.
    
The troops are refusing to identify themselves, but they're speaking Russian.
    
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russian troops that have streamed into Ukraine are protecting his country's citizens living there.
    
European Union foreign ministers are working on a joint response to Russia's military incursion in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula that could include economic sanctions.
    
The 28 foreign ministers are holding an emergency meeting on Ukraine Monday to discuss what Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called "Europe's most dramatic crisis" since the end of the Cold War.
    
Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore said sanctions against Russia are an "option" that will be discussed. Several other ministers, however, cautioned the focus for now should be on diplomacy and forging a direct dialogue between Russia and the new leadership in Ukraine to deescalate the situation.
    
Spain's foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, said discussions are also underway on convening an emergency summit of EU leaders Thursday.

The U.S. and its allies are weighing sanctions on Moscow and whether to bolster defenses in Europe in response to Russia's military advances on Ukraine.
    
Secretary of State John Kerry is going this week to Ukraine's capital. Kerry says world leaders "are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia."
    
Missile defense systems and troop levels in Europe have again become urgent questions in Washington and beyond. It's a renewed reality that may force President Barack Obama's administration to give up its intended foreign policy shift to Asia.
    
There appears to be little if any taste in the West for a direct military response to Russia's provocation. Economic sanctions, visa bans, freezing of Russian assets, and trade and investment penalties are under consideration.

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