Russia stares down UN pressure on Ukraine

Yahoo News

Moscow (AFP) – Russia has refused to budge from its seemingly imminent annexation of Crimea, defying Western pressure at the UN Security Council, as Ukraine’s ousted president prepared to make his first public appearance in more than a week Tuesday.

As Kremlin-backed forces tightened their grip on Crimea, Russia rebuffed pressure from Western members of the Security Council on Monday to change course on a secession referendum in the strategic peninsula.  

At a Security Council meeting that France’s UN ambassador described as “a call to Russia not to go down this road”, Western countries’ pleas to cancel the Sunday referendum — called by Crimea’s self-appointed leaders to decide whether the peninsula should join Russia — fell on deaf ears, diplomats said.

“The Russians are not showing any sign that they are listening to us,” said the French envoy, Gerard Araud, warning the crisis was worsening by the day.

British UN envoy Mark Lyall Grant said there had been no “softening of Russia’s position” despite widespread consensus the referendum was illegal.

“It is clear that a free and fair referendum cannot be organised when Crimea is controlled by Russian troops,” he said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to invade Ukraine after a wave of deadly protests toppled a pro-Kremlin regime last month has set off the most explosive crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War.

US President Barack Obama and his European allies are urging Russia to call its troops in Crimea back to their barracks and launch immediate negotiations with the new Ukrainian leadership, which Putin claims took power in an “unconstitutional coup”.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Putin in a televised meeting Monday that proposals he had received from US Secretary of State John Kerry “do not suit us very much” and were “framed as if there exists a conflict between Russia and Ukraine”.

In a surprise move, he said Russia had prepared its own solution to the crisis, but did not say when it would be unveiled.

Lavrov said Washington was basing its diplomacy on a recognition of Ukraine’s new leaders but that Russia still considered the ousted Viktor Yanukovych the legitimate president.

Yanukovych, who fled Ukraine as three months of protests against him turned increasingly bloody, was due to give a statement Tuesday in Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia, his first public appearance since a feisty press conference on February 28 at which he insisted he was still Ukraine’s president.

– Putin backs Crimea referendum –

Putin added new urgency to the standoff Sunday by saying he fully backed the actions being taken by Crimea’s new rulers — in power since an end-of-February seizure of the government by pro-Kremlin gunmen.

The Kremlin said Putin stressed “the steps undertaken by the legitimate authorities of Crimea are based on the norms of international law” — a comment strongly hinting that Moscow was ready to annex Crimea after handing the peninsula to Ukraine as a “gift” in 1954, when it was part of the Soviet Union.

US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt told reporters in Kiev on Monday that Washington “is not prepared to recognise any result of the so-called referendum”.

The public vote will ask the peninsula’s mainly ethnic-Russian population to choose between swearing allegiance to Moscow and declaring greater autonomy from Kiev while remaining part of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s interim Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya said that if Crimea’s leaders “want more rights and authority, then we are ready to do this”.

The country’s interim Defence Minister Igor Tenyukh meanwhile said the nation’s army — already on full combat alert — had launched training exercises aimed at evaluating how the heavily outnumbered force could resist an offensive from its nuclear-armed neighbour.

– World Bank aid pledge –

The diplomatic wrangling continued as Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk prepared to fly to the United States to meet Obama and address the Security Council.

His first meeting with the US leader on Wednesday should add credibility to his untested government and give Ukraine a chance to iron out the details of crucial aid for its struggling economy.

Ukraine says it needs about $35 billion through 2015 to stay afloat after Russia froze a $15-billion bailout it promised Yanukovych as his reward for rejecting a European Union trade deal in November — the initial spark for the protests.

The White House said Obama would discuss an economic support package that has already seen Washington pledge more than $1 billion and the European Union 11 billion euros ($15 billion) over two years.

And World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said the bank was prepared to offer $3 billion in aid “to undertake the reforms badly needed to put the economy on a path to sustainability”.

In a separate development, NATO announced it would deploy reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the crisis in Ukraine.

One thought on “Russia stares down UN pressure on Ukraine

  1. Hi Paul,

    You just beat me to this one!

    Putin is just laughing at these clowns.

    He has got to be sitting there in the Kremlin, shaking his head saying, “I can’t believe what a bunch of retards those Westerners are….”

    Putin holds all the cards,.. there is no chance of Putin backing down,… and yet the US, the West, NATO insist on proving just how worthless their postion is,.. and that includes in the UN Security Council.

    Once again,… it is time for the US, NATO, France, Germany and their master, Israel,… to Raise, Call,.. or Fold.

    Russia has a Chess player,.. we have retarded monkeys that are fascinated by shiny objects.

    Care to place your bet on who will come out ahead on this one?

    JD – US Marines – As you read this, you can be sure, military assets are hastily being shifted to this next flash point.

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