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Russia without Ukraine is a country;
Russia with Ukraine is an empire.

During the Great War, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Lenin took it back
During the Great Pariotic War, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Stalin took it back
During the Winter Olympiad, Germany grabbed Ukraine
and Putin let it slip away

Ukraine Crisis - 26 February 2014

2014 CrisisPresident Vladimir Putin ordered an urgent drill to test the combat readiness of the armed forces across western Russia on 26 February 2014, flexing Moscow's military muscle amid tension with the West over Ukraine. But military intervention seems too high-stakes a game for Moscow to play.

In accordance with an order from the president of the Russian Federation, forces of the Western Military District were put on alert at 1400 (1000 GMT) today, Interfax quoted Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying. The exercise reportedly involved 150,000 Russian combat troops, including units of the Western military district and the Second Guards Army of the Central Military District, as well as commands of Aerospace Defense Forces, Airborne Troops, Military Transport Aviation and Long-Range Aviation. In 2013 Russia held at least six snap combat readiness checks of the armed forces. A surprise exercise in July 2013 was the largest in the post-Soviet era and involved some 160,000 servicemen.

Former U.S. ambassador to Kyiv Steven Pifer noted: "The Russians have very strong motivations. I think this is a big deal for Vladimir Putin. He wants to build a sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space. A big part of that would be the customs union. If Ukraine is moving towards the European Union, there's a big hole in that sphere. And I think it's also important for Vladimir Putin, for his domestic political constituency. Pulling Ukraine back is popular at home. Losing Ukraine would not be popular."

The White House responded to the Russian troop alert near Ukraine by urging outside actors in the region to respect Ukrainian sovereignty. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States strongly supports Ukraine leaders' efforts to form an inclusive, multi-party government. "We urge outside actors in the region to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, to end provocative rhetoric and actions, to support democratically established transitional governing structures and to use their influence in support of unity, peace and an inclusive path forward, Earnest said. Washington wants to remind all governments of their political commitments to transparency about military activities under international obligations designed to ensure peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic region, he said.

Secretary of State John Kerry urges Russia to avoid Cold War-style confrontation over Ukraine What we need now to do is not get into an old, Cold War confrontation," Kerry told MSNBC in an interview. We are not looking for confrontation but we are making it clear that every country should respect the territorial integrity ... of Ukraine. Russia has said it will do that and we think it's important that Russia keeps its word.

Pro-Russia demonstrators and those supporting Ukraine's new pro-Western interim leaders confronted each other in the southern city of Simferopol on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. Small-scale clashes broke out between the shouting protesters, some of whom were bloodied in the incident, which happened in the courtyard of the local parliament building in the Crimean capital. The Crimean peninsula is mainly made up of Russian speakers who support Moscow, though it also includes a minority Tatar group that tends to take an anti-Russia stance and largely supports Ukraine's new interim leaders. The tensions in Crimea and confrontations along ethinc lines in other parts of Ukraine have raised the specter of an East-West divide in the nation of 46 million following the ouster of Moscow-backed president Viktor Yanukovych.

Ukraine's protest leaders named former economy minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk as their choice to head a new national unity government following the overthrow of president Viktor Yanukovych. The "Euromaidan" council made its announcement of Yatsenyuk, plus candidates for several other key ministers, after its members addressed crowds on Kyiv's Independence Square. The Euromaidan's proposals have to be approved by parliament.

Parliamentary Commissioner for the Supervision of Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov, a member of Tymoshenko's Batkivshchyna party, signed a decree on the dissolution of a special division of public security police "Berkut". "There is no "Berkut" anymore," states on the Avakovs page. "I have signed a decree number 144 on February 25, 2014 "About the elimination of special police units of civil security "Berkut ". More details on the special briefing tomorrow."

Ukraines Interior Ministry said that Maidan self-defense groups should take off their masks and lay down their arms. A decision was made yesterday that all the members of the self-defense groups are taking off their masks. Also, they should be unarmed, Deputy Interior Minister Nikolay Velichkovich said.

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Page last modified: 28-02-2014 16:13:48 ZULU