By Chris Rumbles
Ukraine’s new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has warned the country is ‘on the brink of disaster’ as Ukrainian armed forces mobilise in response to Russian troops occupying Crimea.
Mr Yatsenyuk said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was on the verge of initiating a war between “two neighbouring and friendly countries”.
The newly appointed Yatsenyuk was keen to stress the illegality of Russia’s actions: “There was not any reason for the Russian Federation to invade Ukraine and we believe that our vested partners and the entire global community will support the territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine.”
Crimea, a republic within Ukraine where many of its residents identify as Russian, witnessed Ukrainian army bases in the region being surrounded by Russian troops on Sunday.
Rear Admiral Denys Berezovsky, the man chosen on Saturday to head Ukraine’s navy, has now reportedly promised to serve Crimea over the Ukraine at a presentation overseen by unrecognised pro-Russian figures.
The UK has now abandoned preparatory discussions for the G8 Sochi summit along with France and the United States due to Russia’s actions. US Secretary of State John Kerry even spoke of the possibility of Russia’s expulsion from the G8 if Vladimir Putin failed to heed the calls of western nations to withdraw troops from Ukraine.
Speaking before flying out to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to meet the new Ukrainian authorities, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he would support Ukraine’s right to sovereignty: “We have to recognise the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been violated and this cannot be the way to conduct international affairs.”
Prime Minister David Cameron was due to speak with US President Barack Obama, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite on Sunday night. Mr Cameron has already confirmed that no British ministers will attend the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi that begin this Friday.
Conflict has swiftly escalated in what has been an incredibly tumultuous time in Ukraine. Civil unrest spearheaded by the EuroMaidan movement, the Ukrainian socio-political alliance pushing for closer ties with the European Union, resulted in President Viktor Yanukovych being deposed for the second time in his life.
In late 2004 Yanukovych was ousted as part of the Orange Revolution protests that saw supporters of Our Ukraine-People’s Self Defense Bloc presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko engage in peaceful protests and demonstrations against what they viewed as a corrupt election.
Yanukovych has since claimed in a television appearance that he is still the legitimate president of Ukraine and has labelled events in Kiev and elsewhere a “coup d’état”. At a press conference in Russia last Friday, Mr Yanukovych claimed he wished to see a united Ukraine and opposed any prospect of military intervention.