Russia to Unveil Solution to Ukraine Crisis

Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi, March 10, 2014.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (left) meets with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Sochi, March 10, 2014.
VOA News

Russia plans to unveil its own solution to the Ukraine crisis, a plan that is likely to run counter to U.S. proposals.

"We prepared, together with members of the Russian Security Council, our counter-proposals. They aim to resolve the situation on the basis of international law and take into account the interests of all Ukrainians without exception," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a televised meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

At a meeting with Putin in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Lavrov said he received proposals from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry which "did not completely satisfy us". Lavrov also said Kerry had declined an invitation to visit Russia for further talks.

Moscow has consistently described the ouster of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych as the illegal overthrow of a legitimate head of state.

Russian news agencies report Yanukovych is expected to make his second public appearance since stepping down and fleeing Kyiv last month on Tuesday.

Meantime, NATO will start reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in Ukraine, the alliance said Monday. Ukraine is not a NATO member but Russia's actions in Crimea have alarmed neighboring countries, including alliance members that used to be dominated by the Soviet Union.

Also, U.S. senators are working on a bill to address the crisis in Ukraine that includes sanctions, aid and backing for loan guarantees, Senate aides said.


Russian forces have tightened their grip on Crimea as authorities in the breakaway territory push their proposal to join Moscow, a decision it plans to put to a referendum on March 16.

Meantime, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said Monday that the United States is still ruling out possible military action in Crimea. Geoffrey Pyatt said any diplomatic solution must address Moscow’s interests in the strategically important peninsula.

Pyatt reiterated that the U.S. will not recognize the results of the "so-called" referendum in Crimea set for March 16.

The chief of Crimea's election commission said Monday that he is moving ahead with preparations for next Sunday's unification referendum. Myhkailo Malyshev said all registered Crimean voters are eligible to vote.

Crimea has invited observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to monitor the referendum, according to Russia's RIA news agency.

On Saturday, an unarmed observer mission from the same Vienna-based group tried to cross into Crimea but had to turn back after warning shots were fired.

Ukraine's interim prime minister vowed Sunday not to give up "a single centimeter" of territory.
Ukraine Crisis Sharpens Debate on Obama Foreign Policy
Arseniy Yatsenyuk is scheduled to meet Wednesday with President Barack Obama in Washington to discuss the standoff over Crimea, a strategic peninsula in southern Ukraine with a Russian-speaking majority.

A Russian lawmaker said the Kremlin had set aside $1.1 billion to rebuild Crimea's industrial infrastructure if the disputed region votes to join Russia.

Putin has defended the separatist drive in Crimea as consistent with international law, and a regional leader said Ukrainian troops remaining there should leave the territory unless they renounce their loyalty to Kyiv.

Shots fired

Armed men fired into the air as they took over a Ukrainian naval post in Crimea on Monday, according to local media there.

Ukraine's Channel 5 television quoted Ukrainian defence official Vladislav Seleznyov as saying the shooting took place in mid-afternoon at a motor pool base near Bakhchisaray.

On his Facebook page, Seleznyov said about 10 "unidentified armed men" in two minibuses drove into the compound and demanded Ukrainian personnel there give them 10 trucks, Reuters reported.

The watchdog group, Reporters Without Borders, said on Monday that unidentified gunmen seized two female Ukrainian journalists in Crimea. The group warned that attacks on the media were attempts to turn the region into a "black hole for news".

Rival demonstrations 

Russian forces tightened their grip on the peninsula taking over a Ukrainian border post on the western edge of Crimea, trapping about 30 personnel inside. A Ukrainian military spokesman said Russian forces now control 11 border guard posts across the territory.

As demonstrators staged rival rallies in Crimea and throughout Ukraine, street violence flared in Sevastopol when pro-Russian activists and Cossacks attacked a group of Ukrainians.

In the ethnic Russian eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the Kyiv Post said 7,000 demonstrators in Lenin Square tore down a Ukrainian flag, replacing it with the Russian tricolor ensign and chanting "Putin our president" and "referendum."

In Kyiv, former imprisoned Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky implored a pro-Western crowd to believe that not all Russians support Moscow's recent actions in Ukraine.

Russia denies it has troops on the peninsula beyond those regularly stationed with its Sevastopol-based Black Sea fleet. Ukraine's much smaller navy is also based in the Crimean port city.

Witnesses say although the soldiers have no insignia identifying them, they are clearly Russian.

Source : VOA