Ukraine: Alleged 'Armed Invasion,' Ousted President Speaks from Russia

BBC ScreencapBBC ScreencapIn Ukraine's Crimean region, tensions continue to rise as hundreds of heavily armed men began patrolling two airports and are blocking road access with military vehicles. Who they are, though, remains unclear.

The Minister of Internal Affairs issued a statement describing the action at Simferopol, a civilian airport, and Sevastopol, a military airbase, as an “armed invasion and occupation in violation of all international treaties and norms. It is a direct provocation of armed bloodshed in the territory of a sovereign state.”

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said that that “judged by our special services” that although they bear no insignia, the gunmen surrounding these locations are “professional soldiers.”

Daniel Sanford of the BBC speculates that “they could be a pro-Russian militia or they could be Russian troops,” because “they don't want to say who they are but are being helped by pro-Russian activists, who are keeping cameras at a distance.

Although the Russian government has previously threatened intervention, has been running military exercises near the border this week, and is reportedly both flying military helicopters in Ukrainian airspace and blocking Balaklava Bay with an armed ship, Russia's Black Sea Fleet denies any involvement in the airport standoffs.

The region has a large ethnic Russian population and some want to break entirely from Ukraine.

Meanwhile, ousted fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych, whose whereabouts were unknown after he fled the capital one week ago, has reemerged in Russia. He spoke at a press conference in Rostov-on-Don rejecting foreign military intervention in Ukraine's domestic affairs, but said that “Russia should and must act.” He blamed the nation's instability on western powers and the opposition, describing the latter as “pro-fascist activists” and “bandits.” Yanukovych also said he won't participate in the presidential election in May 2014, calling the decision to move the vote from February 2015 as “unlawful," though he also assured that he remains Ukraine's legitimate leader. Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko today confirmed that both he and former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko will run.

For more Reason coverage of Ukraine, click here.

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  • ||

    “armed invasion and occupation in violation of all international treaties and norms. It is a direct provocation of armed bloodshed in the territory of a sovereign state.”

    The threat, however, is nowhere near the thread of La Raza.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    Russian troops have moved into Crimea in what Moscow is calling a mission to “protect Black Sea Fleet’s positions” but which the Ukrainian government has denounced as an “armed intervention.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/new.....raine.html

  • ||

    The Telegraph blurs two different issues. Yes, Russia confirmed that there are troops in Crimea. They did not confirm claims by Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov that Russia sent the unmarked troops surrounding the airports.

  • R C Dean||

    So, if those aren't Russian troops, the Russians shouldn't mind if the Ukrainians kill them all. Right?

  • Brett L||

    Well, no, but they should try really hard to miss the "Russian Government Observers" who happen to be dressed exactly the same.

  • Don Mynack||

    These mysterious unidentified armed men happen to wearing uniforms of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which is based there.

    I suspect the French, however.

  • thom77||

    Could be those crafty Danes.

    Always stirring up trouble, they are.

  • Lonely Stalker||

    Russia protecting its interests, in particular military interest in the Crimea.

    FILM AT 11. ANGRY OBAMA AT 12!

    Meanwhile, are we out of Japan/Hawaii/Iraq/Afghanistan/Yurop yet?

  • ArbutusJoe||

    No, no, no. If you look closely at the image that accompanies the article, that military truck is marked "BBC".

  • WTF||

    I can hardly wait to see what Obama's response is once the "do something" crowd hits full chorus.

  • paranoid android||

    I've secured a copy of the prepared remarks from his upcoming press conference, here's a sample:

    We don't want to fight but by Jingo if we do,
    We've got the ships, we've got the men, we've got the money too,
    We've fought the Bear before, and while we're Britons Americans true,
    The Russians shall not have Constantinople!

  • ||

    We must have the same source! Here is next week's statement:

    'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
    Was there a man dismay'd?
    Not tho' the soldiers knew
      Some one had blunder'd:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die:
    Into the valley of Death
      Rode the six hundred.

  • BardMetal||

    Anyone feel like singing "the trooper" from Iron Maiden?

  • ||

    Obama picked that verse for his statement because of the "blunder'd", but, yes, the tune ran through his head as he read it.

  • db||

    Even that crowd might blanch at a full blown armed conflict with Russia. Ukraine has fewer proxies to serve as a buffer between the powers, certainly less so than Syria.

  • WTF||

    I fully expect that whatever Obama does it will lie somewhere on the spectrum between "ineffectual" and "make matters worse". Because minding our own fucking business is just out of the question.

  • RBS||

    I can assure you the "make matters worse" option will involve drones.

  • BardMetal||

    Maybe he can send Wesley Clark sense his last attempt to start World War 3, by firing at a bunch of Russians, was foiled by some Brit with common sense.

  • ||

    I think John said it was James Blunt of "You're Beuatiful" fame.

    Wikipedia confirms:

    His unit was given the assignment of securing the Pristina International Airport in advance of the 30,000-strong peacekeeping force; however the Russian army had moved in and taken control of the airport before his unit's arrival. American NATO commander Wesley Clark ordered that Blunt and his unit forcibly take the airport from the Russian contingent, but Blunt refused to comply.
  • Brett L||

    I welcome a new American Flashman for the 21st century.

  • WTF||

  • UnCivilServant||

  • UnCivilServant||

    Russia's Black Sea Fleet denies any involvement in the airport standoffs.

    Of course the Navy didn't send any troops to the airport, that's the Amry's job

    (PS, the Squirrels ate the first post of that)

  • db||

    Well stated.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Well, Brevity is the soul of wit, and you can't get more brief than nothing at all.

  • db||

    A lesson I could do.well to learn, sometimes.

  • UnCivilServant||

    Polonious should have taken his own advice.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Neither a borrower nor a lender be?

  • ||

    Sung to Carmen, of course.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Why, yes, yes, that's a good idea. Hamlet the Musical?

  • GILMORE||

    Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

  • Cdr Lytton||

    Oh now we definitely have to get involved. And bring the Brits so we can do Crimea 2: Electric Babushkaloo.

    Besides last time they got cardigans, raglans, and balaclavas out of it. What fashions could we get this time??

  • Pro Libertate||

    I have a bad feeling about this. . . .

  • Jordan||

    WTF is going on in that picture? Why does that truck have legs?

  • WTF||

    The Russian army is so low on funds to maintain their equipment, their vehicles are now full Flintstone.

  • db||

    Soon they will have to pay their soldiers in spoils.

  • BardMetal||

    Well it would keep costs down, and who wouldn't want to bring back a few keepsakes from the campaign?

  • Rasilio||

    Is this really all that frigging hard to work out?

    The Ukraine has ceased to be a functioning country largely becuase the ethnic Russians and ethnic Ukrainians don't get along and want very different things from their governments.

    Make Crimea it's own country seperate from larger Ukraine, give everyone on each side of the border 2 years to freely relocate to whichever side they prefer then let each country go it's seperate way independently

  • UnCivilServant||

    Don't you see, neither side wants to give up the land or the control over the other side of lesser heathens.

  • Wandering Texan||

    Honestly, what they both really want is Sevastopol.

  • Rhywun||

    Nor does Russia.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Yeah, it's amazing how people get upset when they're suddenly expected to hand over all their property and leave because their home is now claimed by some other ethnic group.

  • Mike A.||

    Yeah, what a great solution. It worked out really really well for India and Pakistan.

  • BardMetal||

    Do you think the Hindus and the Muslims would have gotten along any better if they stayed the same country?

  • Calidissident||

    There are still tens, if not hundreds, of millions of Muslims in India. Not all of them went to Pakistan or Bangladesh. I will say that it's certainly possible that things would have been worse had they not split, which is why I made the comment just below this one.

  • Rasilio||

    Yeah that is just it, I never said anyone should be forced to leave their property. But if you are an ethnic Ukranian Eu Sympathizer and you lived in Crimea your choice to stay pr move would have to be informed by the knowledge that in 2 years you would be living in either a Russian Client state or Russia itself.

    Basically you get told "this is what is happening around you, react to it in whatever manner you deem best"

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Yeah, in the same sense that "Your money or your life" technically isn't forcing you to hand over your money.

  • GILMORE||

    It worked so well with Pakistan.

  • Calidissident||

    Who knows how things would have turned out if they didn't split from India.

  • GILMORE||

    "What if" is such a fun game.

  • UnCivilServant||

    What if... Lee Harvey Oswald had shot LBJ?

  • GILMORE||

    "What if... The Germans and the Japanese won WWII, but Philip K Dick was *never born*??"

  • WTF||

    How do you know they didn't win, and we are just living in a Philip K Dick story?

  • UnCivilServant||

    What if... the Persians had beat back the armies of Islam before they broke out of Arabia?

  • GILMORE||

    What if Lawrence of Arabia was *straight*?

  • db||

    We'd probably have human.bases on Mars, by now.

  • BardMetal||

    They would probably just hate each other even more.

  • GILMORE||

    "'Make Crimea...""

    See, that's just where the problems start.

  • ||

    My Romanian friend is still angry about Moldova.

    Hasn't this been a pretty standard gambit by the Russians? Incite separatist movement in former satellite, use new, smaller, ethnically Russian client state as a regional base.

  • Jon Lester||

    As I understand it, the people in Transdnistra thought Moldova would reunify with Romania, but failed to consider that German reunification was enormously expensive, and Romania couldn't even entertain the idea.

  • BardMetal||

    This is what happens when you have two different cultures trying to share the same country. Maybe some the multi-culturalists should pay attention to this.

  • Brett L||

    Look how long it took the Normans and the Saxons to live together as equals. Only their hatred of the French eventually united them.

  • GILMORE||

    Hey look = 'Murkin!

    Its amazing how complex issues can always be reduced to some ideological whipping boy.

    and by "cultures"...it should be noted = Russians AND Ukrainians are generally both JUST AS RACIST AS YOU. So you really shouldn't pick on them at all. The three of you whiteys can get together and pick on the jews, however. As Billy D. says = works every time.

  • BardMetal||

    Hey dumbass I'm not "Murkin" and these sort of ethnic conflicts happen all the time dipshit, but lets just put our fingers in our ears and pretend like culture doesn't matter.

    I mean damn it hasn't even been 15 years since Yugoslavia disintegrated along ethnic, and religious lines, and now we see similar conflict in the same neighborhood.

    But nevermind all that. Let's just scream racist even when nobody mentioned anybody's race.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Because there's no such thing as a single ethnicity state. If you resolve the dispute between the As and the Bs by getting rid of all the Bs, you just replace it with a new equally vicious conflict between the A1s and the A2s.

  • BardMetal||

    It doesn't matter if two groups of people have slightly different DNA, what matters is they all see themselves as the same group.

    England is made up of a bunch of people descended from Germanic tribes, who intermarried with some native Celts, and probably a few Romans thrown in for good measure, who were then invaded by vikings, who they also mated with, and then later some Normans.

    No doubt on a purely genetic level there are some English who are way more Celtic, and others that are way more Germanic, etc, etc, but it doesn't matter, because they all see themselves as being English.

    In the Ukraine you have a large Russian population that doesn't see themselves as being Ukrainian, they see themselves as being Russians, and this is a source of conflict.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    If they're the sort of people willing to engage in ethnic violence, there will always be someone they see as a different group. If the old "other group" disappears, they'll just tighten up the definition of what it means to be part of "the same group" until some new outsider is created over some subtle difference.

    Think of how much time gets spent here making fun of Yinzers or Chicago style pizza. In other parts of the world, there would be a brutal guerrila war going on over how to properly make pizza.

  • KDN||

    The No True Scotsman theory of ethnic conflict.

  • BardMetal||

    Maybe people would fight over something as stupid as pizza, but I don't see it like that. There is usually quite a bit of history between two groups that don't particularly like each other.

    I mean the Ukrainians didn't just decide to hate the Russians one day. The Russians gave them good reasons to hate.

    In Yugoslavia Christians and Muslims fought each other for centuries.

    A lot of bad blood, between those people.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    If I pick a random person in Crimea, what is the objective criteria that can distinguish whether they are Ukrainian or Russian (beyond the reductive "do you think you are russian or ukrainian?") In many cases, the difference are as silly as pizza recipes.

    In Yugoslaiva, Christians and Muslims fought. But Serbian Christians also fought Croat Christians. Orthodox Serbians fought Catholic Serbians. Serbians from one Župa fought Serbians from the next Župa over.

    If you're looking to fight, you'll always find some subtle distinction worth fighting over.

  • pogi||

    We've always been a gourd people.

  • Calidissident||

    It's slightly more complicated than that. There are plenty of countries in the world with significant numbers of more than one culture (ignoring the fact that not everyone fits neatly into one cultural category), with bigger cultural differences than Russian and Ukrainian or the various Yugoslavian ethnicities whose problems in that area are not nearly as bad.

    In both cases, I would say nationalism is more to blame than cultural differences.

  • BardMetal||

    Well when I say a source of conflict I don't necessarily mean guerrilla fighting, and violence.

    Look at the separatist parties in Quebec. It's not violent but it does cause some problems with the political situation up north, because there are a significant number French Canadians who see themselves as a completely different culture.

  • Cabeza de Vaca||

    I'm don't think the Welsh agree with you Bardmetal.

  • mtrueman||

    "England is made up of a bunch of people descended from Germanic tribes"

    Been to England during the past couple of centuries?

  • Brett L||

    We really need to adopt the Yanuckovych salute for Obama pressers.

    Yanukovych presser greeted with ‘derisive laughter,’ middle-finger salutes

  • WTF||

    If only.

  • Cytotoxic||

    When Russia invaded Georgia, what inflicted the most pain on Russia was markets. Massive capital flight and recession. They never recovered from that and Lehman brothers. How is Russia's currency responding to this?

  • KingRichardofOKC||

    I have red the armed men are from a privately owned security services provider which provides security for the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed at the naval base in the Crimean. Most of the men were Ukrainian.

  • Jon Lester||

    If they can pacify the area without firing a shot, I'll be happy.

  • John Galt||

    Russian non-Flying (for the time being at least) Tigers.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    Who saw this coming in 2008? Sarah Palin, that's who.

  • Jon Lester||

    She ignored the obvious provocation by Georgian troops in South Ossetia (one simply does not fire Katyusha rockets over residential neighborhoods against Russian peacekeepers). I would hope she's not so in line with John McCain that she thinks a fascist takeover in Kiev is a good thing.

  • GregMax||

    To exercise power, you have to be in a position of power. To Obama that means the US media love him. Unfortunately, to all the real bad-asses in the world they know he's a paper tiger. What an ass-clown. The new Chamberlain.

  • XM||

    Yanukovych claims he's a president of a "sovereign" state, even though he was ran out of the country by local radicals (some of them Muslim extremists, apparently). He was stripped of his office and power in a way that's arguably illegal.

    He then warns Russia not to intervene, even though he just fled there to find refuge and their military is ostensibly arriving in Ukraine to restore order. How will he ever return to power without SOMEONE getting involved?

    I never realized being "pro west" was such a hit in that part of Europe. I'm going to go out on a limb and predict the next Ukrainian president won't be that great and any real "western" reform (libertarian, let's say) will be soundly rejected in that region.

  • ian388||

    Start working at home with Google! Just work for few hours and have more time with friends and family. I earn up to $500 per week. It's a great work at home opportunity. I can't believe how easy it was once I tried it out. Linked here www.Pow6.com

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