Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pro-Russia Gunmen Seize Parliament in Ukraine's Crimea

This is getting to be like some real great power politics. Almost like old times, frankly.

At the Washington Post, "Pro-Russia separatists flex muscle in Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula":

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — The revolutionary upheaval in Ukraine’s faraway capital has awakened the separatist dreams of ethnic Russians living here on the Crimean Peninsula, where on Thursday pro-Russia gunmen who occupied the regional parliament building were met with an outpouring of support.

A group of men dressed in camouflage and armed with rocket-­propelled grenades entered the building early Thursday in the capital of Ukraine’s Crimea region, according to local reporters, then barricaded themselves inside and raised the Russian flag on the roof — a succinct answer to warnings from the United States and Europe that Ukraine remain united and Russia stand back.
Also at Time, "Gunmen Seize Parliament in Ukraine’s Russian Stronghold":
Since revolutionaries took over Ukraine’s capital a week ago, the ethnic Russian majority in the Crimea has largely refused to recognize the new government. In some Crimean cities, citizens have begun forming pro-Russian militias to resist the new authorities. “There’s not a chance in hell we’re going to accept the rule of that fascist scum,” Sergei Bochenko, the commander of a local militia group in the Crimea, told TIME last week in the city of Sevastopol. He said his battalion was armed with assault rifles and had begun training to “defend our land.”

Resting on the southern tip of the Crimean peninsula, Sevastopol is home to a major Russian military base. Some of its ethnic Russian citizens have appealed for Moscow‘s help to protect them from the new government, which they widely believe to be a fascist force backed by the United States and European Union.

On Thursday, as the siege unfolded in the Crimean capital, Russia received a similar appeal from Yanukovych, Ukraine’s ousted president, who is wanted in his homeland on charges of mass murder after police under his command slaughtered dozens of protesters last week. “As before, I consider myself the rightful head of the Ukrainian state,” he wrote in an appeal distributed to the press. “My allies and I have received threats of revenge, urging me to ask the authorities of the Russian Federation to ensure my personal safety from the actions of extremists,” he added, referring to the revolutionaries.

So far, Russia has refused all appeals to interfere in Ukraine. On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a trip to the E.U. that Russia had “confirmed our principled position of nonintervention in Ukraine’s internal affairs.” But a few days earlier, on Feb. 22, a senior delegation of Russian officials attended a summit of officials from the fallen regime and, in a resolution passed at the summit, called on Ukrainians to form militias to resist the revolutionary government.

“The provocateurs are on the march,” Ukraine’s acting Interior Minister, Arsen Avakov, said in reaction to the seizure of the Crimean parliament.
Still more at the Los Angeles Times, "Ukraine's fugitive president turns up in Russia."