Ukraine Under Siege: Russian Fleet Issues Ultimatum: Surrender Or ‘Face Storm’

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It would seem that the root course of Russia’s military action in Crimea is its desire to build a bridge from Russia into that part of Ukraine. A bridge linking southern Russia’s Krasnodar region with Crimea would give Russia a transport link to the prized Black Sea peninsula that would bypass the rest of Ukraine. According to reports collated by Yahoo News “A day after Ukraine’s interim prime minister called Russia’s military intervention “a declaration of war,” a Russian fleet has reportedly issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian forces in Crimea: Surrender or “face storm.” Below are more excerpts:

Update, 12:20 p.m. EST: Reuters reports from the Kirillovsky training ground, where Russian President Vladimir Putin observed military exercises on Monday:

Putin attended the final day of war games he ordered on February 26 to test the combat-readiness of his armed forces in western and central parts of Russia, regions adjacent to Ukraine. Putin

Accompanied by his Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin flew by helicopter to the Kirillovsky training ground outside Vyborg, a town on Russia’s border with Finland.

Putin smiled as he walked towards the command centre where he watched tanks, barely visible in thick fog, and listened to artillery fire. He made no comment.

Update, 12:00 p.m. EST: Following other prominent Republicans in their criticism of the White House’s response to the crisis, House Speaker John Boehner told the Cincinnati Inquirer on Monday that “it’s time to stand up to Putin,” calling the Russian leader a “thug.”

“At what point do you say enough is enough?” Boehner said. “We are at that point.”

 Russian President Vladimir Putin listens to Gen. Ivan Buvaltsev as they observe a military exercise near St. Petersburg, Russia, March 3, 2014. (RIA-Novosti via AP)

Update, 11:35 a.m. EST: The Associated Press offers more details on the Russian ultimatum:

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine says Russian forces controlling the strategic region of Crimea are demanding that the crew of two Ukrainian warships must surrender. Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman Maksim Prauta said four Russian navy ships were blocking Ukraine’s anti-submarine warship Ternopil and the command ship Slavutych in Sevastopol’s harbor. He said the Russians ordered the crew to surrender within the hour or face Russians storming and seizing the ships and crew.

Update, 11:30 a.m. EST: Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday that Russia plans to build bridge linking Russia directly with Ukraine’s Crimea region, Reuters reports. “Under discussion for years, a bridge linking southern Russia’s Krasnodar region with Crimea would give Russia a transport link to the prized Black Sea peninsula that would bypass the rest of Ukraine.”

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday that Russia would press ahead with plans to build bridge linking Russia directly with Ukraine’s Crimea region, which Moscow has wrested from Kiev’s control in the past few days.

Update, 11:22 a.m. EST: Vice President Joe Biden called Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, urging Russia to pull back troops, Yahoo News’ Olivier Knox reports.

Update, 11:10 a.m. EST: The United Nations Security Council says it will hold a public meeting at 3:30 p.m. EST on the situation in the Ukraine.

Update, 11:05 a.m. EST: Reuters on the unconfirmed ultimatum issued by a Russian fleet commander:

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has told Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender by 5 a.m. on Tuesday or face a military assault, Interfax news agency quoted a source in the Ukrainian Defence Ministry as saying. The ultimatum, Interfax said, was issued by Alexander Vitko, the fleet’s commander.

“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.

According to the Kyiv Post, the ultimatum was broadcast from a Russian ship via a loudspeaker offshore, but “the words were muffled.”

Update, 11:00 a.m. EST: The New York Times reports that exiled dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky “has offered to travel to Ukraine to help negotiate a peaceful resolution to the crisis.” Khodorkovsky’s statement:

As a result of the incompetent actions of politicians, we find ourselves on the brink of being involved in a civil war in Ukraine. That means many tragedies, including for millions of Russian-Ukrainian families, and extremely grave consequences for our nation’s domestic situation and international standing. No one will remain unaffected.

I have family and friends who are Ukrainians. Just as it is for others, for me this is a family affair. I declare that I am ready to travel to any location in Ukraine at any time at the invitation of any responsible actor in order to help prevent bloodshed. I believe that the presence of independent and internationally-known individuals in Ukraine at this time could help prevent the escalation of the conflict.

Update, 10:50 a.m. EST: The Kremlin has released a photo (above) of Russian President Vladamir Putin meeting with troops in St. Peterburg. It’s the first public image of the Russian leader to come out of Moscow since the build-up in Crimea began.

Source: Storify By Yahoo News

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