UKRAINE’S DEPOSED PRESIDENT Viktor Yanukovych formally asked Moscow to deploy Russian troops to re-establish law and order in his country, Russia has told the UN Security Council.
It comes amid accusations by Ukraine that Russia has threatened troops with an ultimatum — that they surrender, or face an all-out assault at some point in the coming hours.
Russia’s ambassador said Yanukovych sent a written request to President Vladimir Putin on Saturday, addressing the third round of emergency talks on Ukraine in New York in four days.
Vitaly Churkin said what he called “radical extremists” had seized power in Ukraine and — incited by Western powers — were threatening the lives and legitimate interests of Russians.
US President Barack Obama used some of his toughest language yet on the escalating crisis on the eastern edge of Europe, where three months of protests culminated in a week of carnage that claimed nearly 100 lives and led to the ouster of pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych — now sheltering in Russia.
The US leader said the Kremlin had put itself “on the wrong side of history” by mobilising forces on the strategic Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, which has housed the Russian Black Sea Fleet since the 18th century and whose pro-Moscow population looks on the new pro-EU leaders in Kiev with disdain.
“I think the world is largely united in recognising the steps Russia has taken are a violation of Ukranian sovereignty… a violation of international law,” Obama said.
Obama said he had told Russia that “if in fact they continue on the current trajectory, that we are examining a whole series of steps — economic, diplomatic — that will isolate Russia.”
“Chaos and anarchy”
Quoting from Yanukovych’s letter of which he flashed up a photocopy for all to see, Churkin said: “Ukraine is on the brink of a civil war. In the country there is chaos and anarchy.
“Under the influence of Western countries there are open acts of terror and violence. People are being persecuted for language and political reasons.
“So in this regard I would call on the president of Russia, Mr Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability and defending the people of Ukraine,” he read.
Russia had called Monday’s emergency session of the 15-member Security Council, where Churkin told reporters he would lay out in “considerably more detail” Russia’s position on Ukraine.
But his short address provoked stinging rebuke from the British, French and US ambassadors who said Russia was fabricating excuses to justify its flagrant violations of international law.
US ambassador Samantha Power said Russia’s claims had no basis in reality and that there was no evidence of violence against Russian or pro-Russian communities in Ukraine.
“Russian military action is not a human rights protection mission. It is a violation of international law,” she said.
“Russian mobilization is a response to an imaginary threat… Military action cannot be justified on the basis of threats that haven’t been made and aren’t being carried out,” Power added.
British ambassador Mark Lyall Grant concurred, heavily criticizing Russia’s “flagrant breach of international law,” and violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“We can see absolutely no justification for these actions.”
The interim Ukrainian authorities that took over when Yanukovych fled to Russia late last month, said earlier Monday that Russian troops were still pouring into Crimea.