Saturday, March 1, 2014

Obama calls on Putin to pull Russian troops from Ukraine

Source: Press TV

Russia and the United States remain on a collision course over the restive Ukrainian region with Washington calling on Moscow to pull its troops in Crimea back to their bases.

US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin discussed the escalating crisis on telephone for 90 minutes on Saturday.

According to a statement issued by the White House, Obama expressed "his deep concern over Russia's clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity" and called on Putin to order withdrawal of Russian forces from Crimea back to their bases.

The US president also threatened that Moscow’s refusal would “impact Russia’s standing in the international community.”

Obama warned that Moscow’s action in the Black Sea region could lead to more political and economic isolation for Russia.

Putin, however, said that his country reserves the right to protect Russian interests and ethnic Russians in Ukraine.

“In the case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea,” a statement issued by Putin’s office said, “Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.”

Earlier on Saturday, the Russian parliament approved Putin’s request to deploy troops into Crimea.

Putin said that the mission is necessary to protect ethnic Russians and the military base in Crimea known as the Black Sea Fleet.

The Russian president has yet to decide on the troop deployment, but reports emerging from the region show two Russian anti-submarine warships have appeared off the Ukraine coast.

Meanwhile, US Senator Bob Corker called for immediate sanctions against Russia for any potential military intervention in Ukraine.

"Vladimir Putin is seizing a neighboring territory — again — so President Obama must lead a meaningful, unified response," Corker said in a statement.

The Ukrainian army was put on a combat alert as the country’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said on Saturday that any Russia’s military intervention will lead to a war in the crisis-hit country.

Ukraine’s Donetsk calls for referendum, votes to restore Russian’s official status

Source: Russia Today

The City Council in the eastern city of Donetsk has refused to recognize Ukraine’s self-imposed government and called for a referendum on the region’s status. The council has made Russian alongside Ukrainian the official language in the region.

“Until all the legitimacy of the new laws approved by Verkhovna Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] is clarified, the City Council [of Donetsk] will take full responsibility for its territories,” said the document approved by Donetsk City Council during the special session of March, 1. The report comes from Ukraine-based Zerkalo Nedeli newspaper.

Donetsk is the capital of the coal-rich Donbass region in eastern Ukraine. Beside Donetsk, a major economic, industrial and scientific center, Donbass includes Lughansk and Dnepropetrovsk regions.

The Council called for a referendum on Donbass’s future, urging the local parliament to set the date immediately. The move is set to “protect the citizens from possible violent actions on the behalf of radicalized nationalistic forces,” the council said in a statement.

In addition, the members of the city council have voted to set up self-defense squads.

Russian language has been re-introduced as an official language along with Ukrainian in the area where a plurality of its residents are ethnic Russians (48.15%) and Russian-speaking Ukrainians (46.65%). This decision came after the new power in Kiev abolished the minority languages law.

Also, the Donetsk authorities said they consider Russia a strategic partner.

The council’s session was called as pro-Russian activists gathered in the center of Donetsk, demanding local authorities to hold a referendum on the future of the region. The protesters seized the regional administration building and hoisted the Russian flag above it.

Eastern Ukraine and Crimea are seeing massive pro-Russian demonstrations against the new self-proclaimed central government, with many government buildings being topped with Russian flags.

News Updates on the unfolding events in Ukraine


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