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Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

Last updated on: March 04, 2014 09:03 IST

Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

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Reports in the media about an alleged Russian ultimatum made to the Ukrainian armed forces in Crimea are “total nonsense,” a spokesman for the Russian defence ministry said.

“We have become accustomed to the daily accusations by the Ukrainian media of carrying out some sort of military actions against our Ukrainian colleagues," Russian Black Sea Fleet representative said, adding that “those who want to pit us against each other in the Crimea won’t succeed.”

According to source in the Russian defence ministy, they had only heard about the alleged ultimatum from a report by Interfax, an Ukraine news agency.

However, Russia showed no signs of backing down even as world leaders threatened sanctions and sternly rebuked the country for sending troops into Ukraine, CNN reported.

At an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss the unfolding crisis, Ukraine's envoy asked for help, saying that Russia had used planes, boats and helicopters to flood the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with 16,000 troops in the past week.

As diplomats at the meeting asked Russia to withdraw its troops and called for mediation to end the crisis, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin insisted his country's aims were preserving democracy. He said ousted President Viktor Yanukovych remains Ukraine's elected leader and has asked Russia to send troops.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a gamble on Ukraine and is betting that US President Barack Obama will blink first.

Wounded by a personal political defeat in a battle for influence over Russia's Slavic neighbour, Putin is fighting back, and presenting the crisis as a question of symmetry. The former KGB spy blames the West for stirring passions in Kiev, encouraging an opposition to break agreements to restore peace and allowing what Moscow calls "extremists" and "fascists" to dictate political developments in Ukraine.

Now authorised by parliament to deploy Russia's military in Ukraine to protect national interests and those of Russian citizens, Putin is taking on a West he feels has cut Moscow out of talks on the future of Russia's Orthodox Christian brothers.

Putin's open assertion of the right to send troops to a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe creates the biggest confrontation between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

Troops with no insignia on their uniforms but clearly Russian -- some in vehicles with Russian number plates -- have already seized Crimea, an isolated peninsula in the Black Sea where Moscow has a large military presence in the headquarters of its Black Sea Fleet. Kiev's new authorities have been powerless to stop them.

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Image: A soldier without identifying insignia mans a machine gun outside the Crimean parliament building shortly after several dozen soldiers took up positions
Photographs: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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A military personnel member, believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands guard near a local airfield, near the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Lyubimovka, some 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Simferopol, Crimea's capital March 3, 2014

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Photographs: Vasily Fedosenko/Getty Images

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Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

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A clergyman passes by as military personnel (R), believed to be Russian servicemen, stand guard as Ukrainian servicemen seen behind the gate, outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 3, 2014

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Photographs: David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

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Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

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A soldier displaying no identifying insignia carries a loaded, heavy machine gun as people walk past in the city centre in Simferopol, Ukraine

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Photographs: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

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A Ukrainian soldier stands inside the gate of a Ukrainian military base as unidentified heavily-armed soldiers stand outside in Crimea in Perevalne, Ukraine

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Photographs: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

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Heavily-armed soldiers without identifying insignia guard the Crimean parliament building after taking up positions there earlier in the day in Simferopol, Ukraine

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Photographs: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, stand outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 3, 2014

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Photographs: Baz Ratner/Reuters

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A Ukrainian serviceman uses binoculars as he stands guard on the territory of a military unit located in the village of Lyubimovka near a local airfield, some 80 km (50 miles) southwest of Simferopol, Crimea's capital March 3, 2014

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Photographs: Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters

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Military personnel, believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands guard on a military vehicle outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 3, 2014

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Photographs: David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

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A Ukrainian girl looks at military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, standing outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 3, 2014

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Photographs: Baz Ratner/Reuters

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Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

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Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 3, 2014

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Photographs: Baz Ratner/Reuters

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Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

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Orthodox monks pray next to armed servicemen near Russian army vehicles outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava

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Photographs: Baz Ratner/Reuters

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Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

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A Russian military helicopter flies near Simferopol March 3, 2014

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Photographs: Baz Ratner/Reuters

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Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

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A Ukrainian woman walks past military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 3, 2014

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Photographs: Baz Ratner/Reuters

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Ukraine crisis: Russia refuses to back down

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People gather outside an European Union emergency foreign ministers meeting to protest against Russian troops in Ukraine, in Brussels March 3, 2014

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Photographs: Baz Ratner/Reuters

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Photographs: Baz Ratner/Reuters
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