Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Russia makes threats over eastern Ukraine

  • Print

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine -- Russia and its sympathizers seized control of more Ukrainian military bases and facilities in Crimea on Monday, while Moscow issued threatening statements about eastern Ukraine that signalled Russia's intention to play a significant role in the country's future.

At least four Ukrainian military bases, including one stocked with missiles, were overrun by armed men in uniforms who say they are members of local self-defence units, which are typically under the command of Russian military officers. The headquarters of the Ukrainian naval fleet had its electricity cut, and the director of a military hospital was ousted and a replacement installed by the pro-Russian militia that took over.

A foreboding sense of lawlessness is spreading ahead of a Sunday referendum in Crimea on whether to align with Russia or remain with Ukraine. Several activists critical of Russia's presence in the Crimean region were reported missing. Residents of the regional capital, Simferopol, reported being visited by groups that stole or destroyed their passports, which are required as identification to vote.

Crimean officials are acting as if the referendum's outcome is a foregone conclusion. On a website the Crimean parliament started to drum up support for the referendum, an online poll showed votes to join Russia outnumber the votes to remain with Ukraine almost three to one. Every article on the site put a positive spin on a union with Russia, with one describing the thousands of Russian tourists eager to vacation in Crimea.

Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said at a news conference in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, the United States will not recognize the results of the referendum.

"Any increase of the autonomy of Crimea should be done not under the barrel of a gun but in a clear, transparent and constitutional process," Pyatt said.

Senior administration officials in Washington said the ball was in Russia's court to de-escalate the situation, a prospect they acknowledged looked increasingly unlikely, or risk U.S. sanctions.

Officials said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had declined an invitation to go to Russia and speak directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and he had instead sent a list of questions to Moscow over the weekend.

Among the questions, delivered with a proposal to discuss the answers with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, was whether Russia was prepared to take steps such as working to stop the referendum and open direct talks with the new government in Ukraine.

The only response from Moscow appeared to come when Russian television showed Lavrov telling Putin U.S. proposals for resolving the crisis were unacceptable because they recognized the legitimacy of the Kyiv government.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement accusing masked men of firing at peaceful protesters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

"Russia is outraged by the chaos, which is currently ruling in eastern regions of Ukraine as a result of the actions of militants of the so-called Right Sector amid utter connivance of the new authorities, as they call themselves," the statement said.

-- The Washington Post

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 11, 2014 A8

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Lawless in the Morning: It's playoff game day

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings jostle for position to take a drink from a puddle in Brookside Cemetery Thursday morning- Day 23– June 14, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Weather standup. Sundog. Refraction of light through ice crystals which caused both the sun dog and and fog along McPhillips Road early Wednesday morning. 071205.

View More Gallery Photos


Do you agree with the sale of the Canadian Wheat Board to foreign companies?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google