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Newsline: Ukrainian ambassador stays in Moscow for now

The Ukrainian Embassy in Russia is operating in a regular manner, and Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko is staying in Moscow. “The Embassy is functioning normally, and the ambassador is in place so far,” a source at the Embassy press service told Interfax. He said he had no information about Yelchenko’s plans to meet with Russian diplomats or go to Ukraine for consultations.


Newsline: Indian embassy warns people to avoid non-essential trips to Ukraine

Keeping in mind the Russian attack on Ukraine, the Indian embassy in Kiev has asked Indians to defer all “non-essential travel” to Ukraine, said a Times of India report. However, Indians have not been asked to leave the country en masse so far. But, if an attack is carried out by Russia, the embassy is expected to ask Indians to leave the country. The Embassy of India in Kiev was established in May 1992 and Ukraine opened its mission in New Delhi in February 1993. Speaking exclusively with TOI from Kiev, India’s ambassador to Ukraine, Rajiv K Chander said the Indian community in the country has been told to avoid all areas of protest. There are around 4000 Indian students, majority of them in medical field, in Ukraine. Also, there are around 1000 Indians doing business in Ukraine.


Newsline: Ukraine’s EU embassy details ‘Abkhazia scenario’

Ukraine’s embassy to the EU has detailed Russian military movements in Crimea, saying operations to seize control began one week ago. The Ukrainian embassy, in a two-page note circulated to EU diplomats on Friday (28 February) – and seen by EUobserver – cited seven “illegal military activities of the Russian Federation in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ukraine.” Speaking in Kiev on Friday, Ukraine’s interim president, Oleksandr Turchynov, said: “They are provoking us into an armed conflict. Based on our intelligence, they’re working on scenarios analogous to Abkhazia, in which they provoke conflict, and then they start to annex territory.” He added: “Ukraine’s military will fulfill its duties, but will not succumb to provocation.” He also said Russia’s actions violate the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, signed by Russia, the UK, Ukraine, and the US. Russia in 2008 invaded Georgia saying Georgian forces had fired on its “peacekeeping” troops in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia. After an eight-day war, Russia retreated from Georgia proper, but entrenched its occupation of South Ossetia and a second breakaway entity, Abkhazia, in what is widely seen as a way of blocking Georgia’s EU and Nato aspirations. The Budapest document obliges signatories to “respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.” It also says they “will consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.” There is no shortage of consultations. The Kremlin said President Vladimir Putin on Friday phoned the British and German leaders and EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy. Lithuania, which currently holds the UN Security Council (UNSC) presidency, also called a meeting of UNSC ambassadors in New York. Statements coming from the Budapest signatories echo the terms of the agreement. A spokesman for British leader David Cameron said he told Putin “that all countries should respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.” US President Barack Obama said on TV “the United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.” The UN meeting in New York did little to calm nerves. Ukraine’s UN ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, told press afterward: “We are strong enough to defend ourselves.” Russia’s UN envoy, Vitaly Churkin, said all Russian military activity in Crimea is “within the framework” of a 1997 Ukraine-Russia treaty governing the use of its Sevastopol base. Churkin added the EU bears “responsibility” for events because three EU foreign ministers – from France, Germany, and Poland – on 21 February signed a deal between Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, and opposition MPs which says he is to stay in power until December. Yanukovych fled Kiev the next day when Kiev protesters rejected the agreement and threatened to storm his palace. Churkin accused the EU of fomenting the revolution by criticising Yanukovych for refusing to sign an EU association and free trade treaty and by sending VIPs to Kiev to mingle with demonstrators. “They emphasize sovereignty. But they behave as if Ukraine was a province of the European Union, not even a country, but a province,” he said.


Newsline: Diplomats scramble to respond to Russia vote on Ukraine

Diplomats scrambled Saturday to respond to the unanimous vote by Russia’s upper house of Parliament to approve sending military forces into Ukraine. The vote followed a request from President Vladimir Putin for approval to send troops into Crimea to normalize the political situation there. Putin cited the “extraordinary situation in Ukraine” in making his request, adding that the lives of Russian citizens and military personnel based in the southern Crimea region had been threatened. Late in the evening, Ukrainian acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in a televised address in Kiev that he had been told by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev that no decision had been made on whether Russian military forces would indeed enter his country. Yatsenyuk said his country was ready to mobilize its forces to protect strategic locations, including nuclear power plants.


Newsline: Additional Marines sent to guard U.S. Embassy in Ukraine

Members of the Marine Corps’ new Security Augmentation Unit have been dispatched to shore up security at the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, as the country is on the brink of a meltdown following weeks of violent unrest after a growing protests over agreements made between the former president and Russian leaders. Marine security guards based in Quantico, Va., have deployed to Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, according to a State Department official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The official would not provide the number of Marines requested by the department, but NBC News reported that nine have deployed. There’s no indication that any additional U.S. military forces in the region have been tapped to ready for any further action, according to the State Department official. The members of the Marine Security Augmentation Unit — or MSAU — will assist the existing detachment of Marines guarding the embassy, according to the official. The unit was created as part of the service’s response to boost diplomatic security capabilities following the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The MSAU is made up of specially trained Marine security guards. The unit dispatches squad-size teams wherever and whenever a need for reinforcement arises, and can respond directly to calls from the ambassador, chief of mission or regional security officer at an embassy that’s in trouble. The unit has been tapped to boost security at diplomatic posts at least a dozen times since it was stood up last year.


Newsline: US ambassador won’t rule out a Russian invasion of Ukraine

After losing a key ally in his quest to reassert Russian dominance over eastern Europe, could Vladimir Putin invade Ukraine? Retiring U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul repeatedly refused to rule it out, noting that “things here remain very tense” and there’s been a “lot of very heated rhetoric” over this weekend’s revolution. McCaul spoke to CNN’s Jake Tapper, who began by highlighting comments from National Security Advisor Susan Rice calling any possible invasion “a grave mistake.” “Mr. Ambassador, how likely do you think it is that Russia would send troops in,” Tapper asked, “especially considering the fears of Ukrainian unrest spreading across the border?” The diplomat’s response wasn’t exactly reassuring. “I can tell you that things here remain very tense, in what government officials are saying about what’s happening in Ukraine,” he began. “On the television channels you’re seeing a lot of heated rhetoric because of what they call their ‘special relationship’ with Ukraine, especially those regions in the east.” Reports on Monday indicate that Russia is moving a large contingent of warships to their base in southern Ukraine, and has begun issuing passports to Russian-speaking Ukrainian citizens in the southern region of Crimea. The country reacted similarity in the run-up to invading the Caucasus nation of Georgia in 2008.


Newsline: Ukrainian ambassador to Canada says Trudeau should apologize for Russia hockey joke

The Ukrainian ambassador to Canada says Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau should apologize for a joke suggesting that Russia may intervene in Ukraine after failing to medal in hockey at the Sochi Olympics. Vadym Prystaiko said while hockey is important to Russians, its relationship with Ukraine is much more important. On Sunday, Trudeau gave an interview to Radio-Canada’s humour-tinged current events program “Tout Le Monde en Parle” in which he was asked about the current upheaval in Ukraine. The anti-government protests began in November after President Viktor Yanukovych rejected an EU trade deal in favour of closer economic ties with Russia, and have since descended into violence and left dozens of police and civilians dead. Trudeau answered a question about what Canada could do in Ukraine by saying Canada “should do more.” After saying that Yanukovych, who is now in hiding, is “illegitimate,” he joked that Russia could channel its disappointment in finishing out of the medals in men’s hockey by intervening. “It’s very worrisome,” Trudeau said.” Especially since Russia lost in hockey, they will be in a bad mood. We are afraid of a Russian intervention in Ukraine.” Prystaiko said he didn’t believe Trudeau intended for his comments to be offensive, but he hopes the Liberal leader will apologize.


Newsline: Russia Recalls Its Ambassador to Ukraine

Russia has recalled its ambassador to Ukraine for consultations, after an opposition member in Kiev was elected interim president and pledged to seek integration with the European Union. “Due to the escalation of the situation in Ukraine and the need for a comprehensive analysis of the situation, a decision has been made to recall the Russian Ambassador to Ukraine [Mikhail] Zurabov to Moscow for consultations,” the foreign ministry said Sunday in an online statement. The Ukrainian parliament on Sunday named its speaker Olexander Turchynov as interim president until new elections can be held on May 25. Turchynov, the deputy head of the opposition Fatherland party and a close ally of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, said he would focus on closer integration with the EU. But he added that he was “open to dialogue with Russia” as long as Moscow “takes into account Ukraine’s European choice,” AFP reported.


Newsline: UK Embassy in Kyiv closed to visitors

British Embassy in Kyiv (Ukraine) is temporarily closed to visitors, the embassy reported on its Web site. The announcement followed a similar move by the Canadian Embassy in Kyiv amid the continued political unrest there.


Newsline: Canada closes embassy in Kiev as Ukrainian violence escalates

Canada has closed its embassy in Kiev and is threatening to bring in sanctions against Ukraine, after a crackdown by authorities on long-running protests left more than two dozen people dead. A voice message at the Canadian embassy and its website both indicate the closing, but don’t say when it took place. “The Embassy of Canada in Kiev is closed until further notice for security reasons,” according to a recorded message on the embassy’s phone lines. The message said embassy staff continue to provide consular services, and asks Canadians in the country to contact the department if in need of help. The decision to close the embassy comes after authorities on Tuesday stormed a camp of activists, triggering fiery clashes that killed at least 26 people. Adam Hodge, a spokesman for Foreign Minister John Baird, said “all Canadian personnel are safe and accounted for.”



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