Russian military moves in Crimea are declaration of war, says Ukrainian PM
Vladimir Putin has declared war on Ukraine, the acting prime minister in Kiev, Arseniy Yatseniuk, has said, as Ukraine called up its military reserves in readiness to fight but also ordered its troops to resist responding to Russian “provocations” for fear of triggering a bloodbath.
“We are on the brink of disaster,” said Yatseniuk, as Kiev called for help from Washington and London, co-signatories of a 1994 pact with Russia guaranteeing Ukraine’s security.
“This is actually a declaration of war on my country. We urge Putin to pull back his troops from this country and honour bilateral agreements. If he wants to be the president who started a war between two neighbouring and friendly countries, he has reached his target within a few inches,” he said.
As Yatseniuk spoke, hundreds of Russian troops were surrounding a Ukrainian base just outside the Crimean capital, Simferopol, in the latest military manoeuvre on the peninsula indicative of a move by Moscow to annex, in all but name, the Black Sea peninsula.
The Guardian witnessed crowds of Russian civilians gathering outside the base at Perevalnoye. Russian units have already secured the parliament building in Simferopol and two airports on Crimea, in moves that have provoked the gravest crisis in the post-Soviet region since the 2008 Russia-Georgia war.
“Their aim is to stop Ukraine’s economy and to start chaos,” said the acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov. “That is why they try to start panic.”
Western powers are pondering their limited options. US secretary of state, John Kerry, warned that Russia could be expelled from the G8 and face economic sanctions, unless President Vladimir Putin halts his “incredible act of aggression” and withdraws forces from Ukraine.