Written by Staff Writer
02 Mar, 2014 | 2:31 pm
U.S. President Barack Obama has warned Russia against any military intervention in Ukraine after the country’s new leaders accused Moscow of deploying forces in the Crimea region.
A week after Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in Kiev, armed men took control of two airports in Crimea on Friday in what Kiev described as an invasion and occupation by Moscow’s forces in a region with an ethnic Russian majority.
Acting President Oleksander Turchinov said Russia, which has a naval base in Crimea, was following a scenario like the one before it went to war with fellow former Soviet republic Georgia in 2008 over two breakaway regions.
The crisis, which began after Yanukovich triggered protests by spurning a political and trade deal with the European Union, is stoking tensions in a geopolitical battle between East and West that has echoes of the Cold War.
“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,” Obama told reporters in Washington.
“The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”
Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be “deeply destabilizing,” he said.
Obama and European leaders would consider skipping a G8 summit this summer in the Russian city of Sochi if Moscow intervened militarily, a senior U.S. official said.
The G8 includes the world’s seven leading industrial nations and Russia, and Russian President Vladimir Putin considers hosting such events as a way to show how far Russia has come since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
Washington’s relations with Moscow are already cool because of differences over the conflict in Syria, Putin’s record on human rights and Russia’s decision to harbor former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, dismissed the criticism, saying any movements of its forces in Crimea were in line with agreements with Ukraine.
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