|Russia issues ultimatum to Ukraine||
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet told Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender by 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Tuesday or face a military assault, the Interfax news agency quoted a source in the Ukrainian Defense Ministry as saying.
According to Reuters, the ultimatum was issued by Alexander Vitko, the fleet’s commander.
The ministry did not immediately confirm the report and there was no immediate comment by the Black Sea Fleet, which has a base in Crimea, where Russian forces are in control.
“If they do not surrender before 5 a.m. tomorrow, a real assault will be started against units and divisions of the armed forces across Crimea,” the agency quoted the ministry source as saying.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Monday his country would never give up Crimea.
Russian forces have taken control of the Black Sea peninsula, which is part of Ukraine, but Yatseniuk told reporters: “No one will give up Crimea to anyone.”
“Any attempt of Russia to grab Crimea will have no success at all. Give us some time,” he said at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary Wiliam Hague, who is visiting Kiev.
He asked the West for political and economic support and said Crimea remained part of his country -- but conceded there were “for today, no military options on the table.”
“For today, no military options (are) on the table,” he said, adding that what the country urgently needs is economic and political support.
“Real support. Tangible support. And we do believe that our Western partners will provide this support,” he said.
Britain’s foreign secretary said the UK is not discussing military options in its attempts to reverse the Russian military incursion into Ukraine but insisted that Moscow must face “significant costs” over its moves in the Crimean peninsula, which its troops now control.
Pro-Russian soldiers seemed to further cement their control over the strategic region -- that also houses the Russian Black Sea Fleet -- by seizing a ferry terminal in the Ukrainian city of Kerch about 20 kilometers (12 miles) by boat to Russia, intensifying fears that Moscow will send even more troops into the peninsula.
Pro-Russian demonstrators occupied the first floor of the regional government building in the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine on Monday.
A Reuters reporter in a press center on the fourth floor of the building said the protesters had seized the first floor but were unable to go higher because lifts were disabled and stairwell doors shut.
The 11-storey building has been flying the Russian flag for three days, with demonstrators carrying Russian flags staging rallies outside.
‘Bin Laden of Russia’ called to fight in Ukraine
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Right Sector, the ultra-nationalist street fighting group that targeted police prior to the coup in Ukraine, has called for Doku Umarov to fight in a war against Russia.
Umarov -- known as the “Bin Laden of Russia” -- is a Chechen extremist who has claimed responsibility for attacks on Russian civilians.
According to media reports, his most recent threat was against the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. No terrorist attacks, however, occurred during the games.
Russian media reports the appeal to recruit Umarov was issued by Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of the ultra-nationalist and fascist Right Sector.
The group is aligned with other extreme nationalist groups in Ukraine, including “Trident”, Patriot of Ukraine, “White Hammer” and the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense. Although it is not associated with the largest nationalist political party in the country, Svoboda, it has “a lot of common positions when it comes to ideological questions,” according to Yarosh.
Russia does not want war
In another development, a senior Russian diplomat has said Russia does not want war with Ukraine and parliament’s approval for military intervention is aimed above all at showing the seriousness of the Kremlin’s intentions.
“Russia does not want war with Ukraine,” Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said on the late night chat show on state television “Sunday Evening with Vladimir Solovyov”.
“I am convinced that no one in Russia wants war with Ukraine,” he added.
“We are against using such terminology to discuss our relations with Ukraine which is so close to us.”
“We think that this decision will sober up many people and show the seriousness of the intentions of the Russian Federation.”
Karasin slammed Western states that have threatened to throw Russia out of the G8 over its move and told them to show more understanding.
“We will support all forces who are in favor of strengthening our bilateral relations, all the more so since stability in Europe depends on these relations.”
“This should be understood by the Western politicians who are now using foul language against us.”
Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament that gave Putin approval for military action, also rejected the idea of war.
“Vladimir -- never pronounce that word,” she told host Vladimir Solovyov on the same program after he asked her point-blank if there would be war between Russia and Ukraine.
“It is absolutely unacceptable.”
“There will never be war between us. We are brotherly nations, we are the Slavic world,” added Matviyenko, in theory Russia’s number three official after the president and the prime minister.
“I think the hot heads in Kiev in the end should cool down and should understand that with their actions they are provoking separatist actions in eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that recent remarks by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry contained threats against Russia and were “unacceptable”.
Kerry on Sunday condemned what he called Russia’s “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine after Russian forces took control of the Crimea region and parliament gave President Vladimir Putin consent to send the military into Ukraine.
Russia builds up armor
Russia has started a build-up of armored vehicles on the Russian side of a narrow stretch of water between Russia and the Crimea, Ukrainian border guards said.
A border guard spokesman also told Reuters that Russian ships had been moving in and around the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet has a base.
He said the build-up of Russian armor was near a ferry port on the Russian side of what is known as the Kerch Strait, which separates the eastern edge of the Crimea peninsula and the western edge of the Taman Peninsula.
The strait is 4.5 kilometers (2.8 miles) wide at its narrowest point and up to 18 meters (59 feet) deep.
“There are armored vehicles on the other side of the strait. We can’t predict whether or not they will put any vehicles on the ferry,” the spokesman said by telephone.
The border guard spokesman did not say how many armored vehicles had gathered in Russian territory, opposite the city of Kerch on the Ukrainian side of the strait.
The Kerch Strait also connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Russia has taken effective control of the Crimean peninsula without firing a shot. Now, the fears in the Ukrainian capital and beyond are that that Russia might seek to expand its control by seizing other parts of eastern Ukraine. Senior Obama administration officials said the U.S. now believes that Russia has complete operational control of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of the country, and has more than 6,000 troops in the region.
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