Urkraine Mobilizes for War, Calls up Reserves
Kiev – Ukraine mobilized on Sunday for war and called up its reserves, after Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to invade in the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War. Ukraine’s security council ordered the general staff to immediately put all armed forces on highest alert, the council’s secretary Andriy Parubiy announced. The Defense Ministry was ordered to conduct the call-up, potentially of all men up to 40 in a country that still has universal male conscription.
Russian forces who have already bloodlessly seized Crimea – an isolated Black Sea peninsula where most of the population are ethnic Russian and Moscow has a naval base – tried to disarm the small Ukrainian contingents there on Sunday. Some Ukrainian commanders refused to give up weapons and bases were surrounded.
Of potentially even greater concern are eastern swathes of the country, where most of the ethnic Ukrainians speak Russian as a native language. Those areas saw violent protests on Saturday, with pro-Moscow demonstrators hoisting flags at government buildings and calling for Russia to defend them.
Putin’s declaration that he has the right to invade his neighbor – for which he quickly received the unanimous approval of his parliament – brought the prospect of war to a country of 46 million people on the ramparts of central Europe. “President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law,” the White House said after the leaders spoke for 90 minutes on Saturday.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, leading a pro-European government that took power after Moscow ally Viktor Yanukovich fled a week ago, said Russian armed action “would be the beginning of war and the end of any relations between Ukraine and Russia”.
Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya said he sent a request to NATO to “examine all possibilities to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”. Ukraine also appealed for help to Britain and the United States, as co-signatories with Moscow to a 1994 accord guaranteeing Ukraine’s security after the breakup of the Soviet Union. (Reuters)