The crisis in the Ukraine is deepening as Russian forces mass at several points near the border with Ukraine. Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is returning from the U.S. after a visit yesterday with President Obama and an appearance at a meeting of the Atlantic Council international affairs think tank. Stock markets around the globe began selling off as the news of the worsening crisis spread.
Russian forces at Ukraine border
Despite earlier denials, on Wednesday morning the Russian military acknowledged ongoing large-scale operations involving armored and airborne troops in the Belgorod, Kursk and Rostov regions abutting eastern Ukraine. No other information regarding the purpose of the troop movements was provided. Ukrainian and civilian sources have been reporting major troop movements at several points along the border for days now.
Incident in Western Crimea
According to CNN, there was a tense standoff Wednesday morning at a Ukrainian military base in western Crimea. A CNN team reported they saw Ukrainian forces load and cock their weapons as Russian troops tried to placed a heavy machine gun at the gates of the base. Then moments later, the Russian troops pulled back and no shots were fired.
Statements from Ukraine PM
During his speech at the Atlantic Council yesterday Yatsenyuk said, “We fight for our sovereignty, and we will never surrender.” He also added later in the speech that he wanted to be clear that Ukraine “is and will be a part of the Western world” but still a “good friend and partner of Russia.”
He elaborated further at the end of his presentation. “We still want to have a free (and) equal partnership with Russia. And you can’t do it having a military incursion. We do not consider a military option as the best option on how to fix this crisis.”
Statement from Germany’s Angela Merkel
Germany is Russia’s largest trading partner, and it has been publicly mentioned that they are the only nation with much leverage to influence Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel sharply criticized Russia today, sending a clear warning to Putin. “Ladies and gentlemen, if Russia continues on its course of the past weeks, it will not only be a catastrophe for Ukraine,” she said. “We, also as neighbors of Russia, would not only see it as a threat. And it would not only change the European Union’s relationship with Russia. No, this would also cause massive damage to Russia, economically and politically.”