By Ben Kopp
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine accused Russia of beginning an invasion, stating that the eastern European country can defend itself. Western powers called on Russia to pull back.

Armed men who appeared at two airports in Ukraine have been the basis for accusations that Russia began an illegal invasion. (Photo courtesy of Haaretz)

On 28 February 2014, Russian officials issued a statement, which outlined President Vladimir Putin’s orders on Ukraine. That statement announced Putin ordered Russia to work with Ukrainian and foreign partners to find a financial package to shore up Ukraine’s collapsing finances.

In the statement, Putin had ordered his government “to conduct consultations with foreign partners, including the International Monetary Fund, on the provision of financial aid to Ukraine.” However, there are doubts that Russia will provide $15 billion in bailout monies to Ukraine, which was first discussed when Russia convinced Yanukovich to spurn the November 2013 trade deal with the EU.

Also, at that time, armed men, believed to be Russians, appeared in a local parliament in Ukraine’s Crimea region. Within hours, against Moscow’s denial, Ukraine accused Russian forces of overrunning two Black Sea airports. Later, reports indicated that ousted President Viktor Yanukovich was seen in Russia. Yanukovich is wanted on accusations of mass murder.

Ukrainian U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev further accused Russia of illegally sending military planes and helicopters into the country. He then said, “We are strong enough to defend ourselves.”

While Sergeyev wrote to Lithuanian Ambassador Raimonda Murmokaite about the power of the 15-nation council to investigate disputes or “international friction” to determine whether international peace and security is in jeopardy, a call to the council resulted in no formal action. Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council who can block any actions proposed by Member States, including Ukraine.

In battling Western nations for influence over Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s policy has been to allow his lieutenants to arouse passions in its “brotherly nation” while he watches over them.

Alexei Pushkov, a Putin loyalist and a senior member of parliament said, “No matter what Russia does, Kyiv will be firmly pro-Western. The only question left is are we prepared to pay more for this course or not?”

Yanukovich told reporters, “I think that Russia should act and is obliged to act. And knowing Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin’s personality, I am surprised that he is still saying nothing.”

While Yanukovich claimed that he had spoken to Putin since Kiev a week ago he denied any meeting with Russia’s president.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said “the United Kingdom believes that any newly deployed troops that do not answer to the Ukrainian government should withdraw.”

Washington was “gravely disturbed by reports of Russian military deployments into the Crimea,” said U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power. “The United States calls upon Russia to pull back the military forces that are being built up in the region, to stand down, and to allow the Ukrainian people the opportunity to pursue their own government, create their own destiny and to do so freely without intimidation or fear.”

U.S. President Barack Obama affirmed that stance, warning Russia against military action.

For further information, please see:

Haaretz – Obama warns Russia: There will be costs to any military intervention in the Ukraine – March 1, 2014

Reuters – Conciliatory Words Hide Putin’s Anger over Ukraine – February 28, 2014

Reuters – Ukraine’s U.N. Envoy: ‘We Are Strong Enough to Defend Ourselves’ – February 28, 2014

Washington Post – Ousted Ukraine President Says He’s Surprised by Putin’s Silence – February 28, 2014

Author: Benjamin Kopp