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October 25, 2014
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Russia says can't control Crimea troops; NATO, Moscow to hold talks

Ukrainian servicemen look on as an armed man, believed to be a Russian soldier, stands guard inside a Ukrainian military base in the Crimean town of Yevpatoria.
Russian forces remain in control of Crimea, where Interfax reported they seized control of two Ukrainian missile defence sites overnight, and Putin gave no sign of backing down.

"What he wants above all is a new empire, like the USSR but called Russia," former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko told France's Europe 1 radio.

In Washington, US President Barack Obama acknowledged that Russia had legitimate interests in Ukraine but said that did not give Putin the right to intervene militarily.

"President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations," Obama said. "But I don't think that's fooling anybody."

A senior administration official said Obama spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel yesterday and discussed a potential resolution to the crisis. The Russian-speaking German leader has good relations with the German-speaking Putin, and Berlin is Russia's biggest economic partner.

The official said Obama, in his phone call with Putin last Saturday, had discussed what officials called an "off-ramp" to the crisis in which Russia would pull its forces in Crimea back to their bases and allow international monitors to ensure that the rights of ethnic Russians are protected.

The US president will stay away from a G8 summit scheduled for Sochi, Russia, in June unless there is a Russian reversal in the Ukraine crisis, the official added.

Russia said today it could not order "self-defence" forces in Crimea back to their bases ahead of the first face-to-face talks with the United States on easing tensions over Ukraine and averting the risk of war.

NATO and Russia will hold parallel talks in Brussels amid concerns that a standoff between Russian and Ukrainian forces in Crimea could still spark violence, or that Moscow could also intervene in Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.

France said European Union leaders meeting in Brussels tomorrow could decide on sanctions against Russia if there is no "de-escalation" by then. Other EU countries, including Germany, are more reticent about sanctions.


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Tags:  Moscow  Russia  NATO  Ukraine  violence  Putin  US  Obama  Crimea  





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