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Hundreds of gunmen surround Ukraine military base

Does Ukraine Have The Military Might To Face Russia?

PEREVALNE, Ukraine (AP) - As hundreds of armed men surrounded a Ukrainian military base in Crimea on Sunday, world leaders and Ukraine's new prime minister urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull back his military.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called Russia's military incursion into Ukraine "an incredible act of aggression" - comments that came a day after Russian forces took over the strategic Black Sea peninsula of Crimea from Ukraine without firing a shot.

In Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said there was no reason for Russia to invade Ukraine and warned that "we are on the brink of disaster."

But so far, his new government and other countries have been powerless to react to Russian military tactics. Armed men in uniforms without insignia have moved freely about the peninsula, occupying airports, smashing equipment at an air base and besieging a Ukrainian infantry base.

Putin has defied calls from the West to pull back his troops, insisting that Russia has a right to protect its interests and those of Russian-speakers in Crimea and elsewhere in Ukraine.

Russia has long wanted to reclaim the lush Crimean Peninsula, which was part of Russia until 1954. It's Black Sea Fleet is stationed there and nearly 60 percent of Crimea's residents identify themselves as Russian.

Ukraine's population of 46 million has divided loyalties between Russia and Europe, with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the EU, while eastern and southern regions like Crimea look to Russia for support.

Unidentified troops pulled up to the Ukrainian military base at Perevalne on the Crimean Peninsula in a convoy that included at least 13 trucks and four armored vehicles with mounted machine guns. The trucks carried 30 soldiers each and had Russian license plates.

A dozen Ukrainian soldiers, some with clips in their rifles, placed a tank at the base's gate, leaving the two sides in a tense standoff.

Ukraine's acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, announced late Saturday that he had ordered Ukraine's armed forces to be at full readiness because of the threat of "potential aggression." He also said he had ordered stepped-up security at nuclear power plants, airports and other strategic infrastructure.

But the U.S. and other Western governments have few options to counter Russia's military moves.

In Brussels, NATO's secretary general said Russia had violated the U.N. charter with its military action in Ukraine, and he urged Moscow to "de-escalate the tensions." NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen spoke before a meeting Sunday of the alliance's political decision-making body to discuss the crisis.

Ukraine is not a NATO member, meaning the U.S. and Europe are not obligated to come to its defense. But Ukraine has taken part in some alliance military exercises and contributed troops to its response force.

Kerry, interviewed on Sunday news shows in the U.S., raised the possibility of boycotting the G-8 summit, which is to be held in June in Sochi, the Russia resort that just hosted the Winter Olympics. He also discussed visa bans, asset freezes, and trade and investment penalties. Kerry said he spoke with foreign ministers for G-8 and other nations on Saturday, and says everyone is prepared 'to go to the hilt" to isolate Russia.

President Barack Obama spoke with Putin by telephone for 90 minutes Saturday and expressed his "deep concern" about "Russia's clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity," the White House said. Obama warned that Russia's "continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation."

In Moscow, thousands marched Sunday in a pro-invasion rally one day after Russia's parliament gave Putin a green light to use military force in Ukraine. At least 10,000 people bearing Russian flags marched freely through the city, while dozens of people demonstrating on Red Square against an invasion of Ukraine were quickly detained by Russian riot police.

The new Ukrainian government came to power last week following months of pro-democracy protests against a pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, and his decision to turn Ukraine toward Russia instead of the European Union. Yanukovych fled to Russia after more than 80 people died, most of them demonstrators killed by police. He insists he's still president.

Since then, tensions have risen sharply between the two capitals.

The Interfax news agency reported the speaker of Crimea's legislature, Vladimir Konstantinov, as saying the local authorities did not recognize the government in Kiev. He said a planned referendum on March 30 would ask voters about the region's future status.

The White House said the U.S. will suspend participation in preparatory meetings for the Group of Eight economic summit planned.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Europe 1 radio that planning for the summit should be put on hold. France "condemns the Russian military escalation" in Ukraine, and Moscow must "realize that decisions have costs," he said Sunday.

"We are on a very dangerous track of increasing tensions," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement. "(But) "it is still possible to turn around. A new division of Europe can still be prevented."

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
crockbuyer March 02 2014 at 5:22 PM

And What is the Largest Commi nation in the world ( China) doing? Taking our country over by our debt of 17 trillion ( some day there coing to call in our debt! )and millions of American jobs lost to Companys building there for a cheaper product to sell to us. We would have not Debt and a ton of money in the S.S. system if it was all made in the USA!

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ghew March 02 2014 at 1:07 PM

"Armed men in uniforms without insignia have moved freely about the peninsula, occupying airports, smashing equipment at an air base and besieging a Ukrainian infantry base." Hmmm...my guess the Russians are using the tactics that the U.S. military taught them last summer in CO in a joint cooperative anti-terrorism training exercise. Good to know the tactics really work.

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robertjfauver March 02 2014 at 3:50 PM

And the UN will debate this invasion of a sovereign nation.

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LL March 02 2014 at 4:59 PM

Perhaps we should change the name of our world from "Earth" to "Blah, Blah, Blah" - for the round after round of one despot after another challenging the world to a pissing contest, and as always, "sanctions" are the best immediate possible response, in spite of other counter measures that have always been in place; and "WHY" the likes of the Dear Leader of North Korea, The Persian Goofball, and "WOW !!!" ..... I JUST HAVE TO "PUTIN" MY BEST SHOT HERE, to test the mettle of these pacifists, world wide, .... sayth, Vladimir - BECAUSE, running around shirtless just doesn't cut it any more, as an ego boost.

This is what happens when the people of Blah, Blah, Blah "ACCEPT" the effemintate lifestyle, and even embrace it as their own, and of course the zealots then have their way with us, Greek style !

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handsome devil ! March 02 2014 at 4:59 PM

the crimea is an autonomous oart of ukraine.
the majority of crimeans are pro-russian.
the naval bade is the only ice-free naval base for russia.
they won't give it back.
ukraine is neither a part of nato nor the e.u.
if we know what's good for us, then hands off lest we want ww III.
why should we protect ukraine against their will, a country that mostly supported hitler during wwII ???
let them build a west and east ukraine, but putin will not, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES give up the crimea. and given ouir record (nam, BAY OF PIGS !!!, iraq,afghanistan) we better stay away. it's NONE of our business. IF we go there- God forbid- 75% of crimeans will fight US!

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dackohersh March 02 2014 at 4:57 PM

and the drums of war begin to again beat in the USA. if you want to fight the russians , please go do it yourself. USA has lost too many people in King George's wars. time to stop listening to the martial propaganda

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1 reply
jjemder dackohersh March 02 2014 at 5:05 PM

Still blaming the last guy, huh? It's been 5+ years now. And please don't play the race card; Obama was elected twice. What is the end game for the liberal/progressives? How will America remain a world power? Do you want America to remain a world power? It's not an issue now, but, how would you defend yourselves? Would you defend yourselves? Would you just roll over? What would you do? It's not a question of "if" but a question of "when". Will you all run to Canada? I think these are very real questions.

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Rick March 02 2014 at 4:54 PM

UH,excuse please. Our downward spiral on the world stage went ballistic 5 years ago.

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kazema March 02 2014 at 4:53 PM

Maybe the Russians ary trying to protect medical students who are in danger. Putin is not very creative. He is only copying President Reagan's action in 1983.

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1 reply
carp940 kazema March 02 2014 at 4:55 PM


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jfporto March 02 2014 at 4:52 PM

from what I see the people of Crimea want this Russian invasion , lets not get involved in this, as long as the Ukraine people get to keep their power in the mainland they should just give it to Russia as a token of good faith, lets promote peace.

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michaeljdimatteo March 02 2014 at 4:52 PM

Alas, Comrade Putin chooses to fight an economically disasterous war, when he could so easily win the hearts and minds of Ukrainians and informed people all over the globe by simply stepping back and letting the Ukrainians choose their own government.

Think about it Vladamir! These were our brothers and sisters in arms and died by the millions with their brother and sister Russians during the Great Patriotic War.

"Socialism needs democracy like the human body needs oxygen."
Leon Trotsky

"A man is like a fraction whose numerator is what he is and whose denominator is what he thinks of himself. The larger the denominator, the smaller the fraction. "
Leo Tolstoy

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