Supreme Allied Commander Europe Gen. Philip Breedlove said Russia had a large force on Ukraine’s eastern border, and that he was worried it could pose a threat to Moldova’s separatist Trans-Dniester region.
“The (Russian) force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is extremely, very sizable and extremely, very ready,” Breedlove, a U.S. Air Force general, said.
“There is absolutely sufficient force postured on the eastern border of Ukraine to run to Trans-Dniester if the decision was made to do that, and that is very worrisome.”
Russia said its forces complied with international agreements. Moscow annexed Crimea following a controversial snap referendum in the autonomous region last week that produced an overwhelming majority of votes in favor of leaving Ukraine to join Russia.
“Russia is acting much more like an adversary than a partner,” Breedlove said, speaking at an event held in Brussels, Belgium, by the German Marshall Fund think tank.
“It’s deeply concerning to see the Russian troop buildup along the border. It creates the potential for incidents, for instability,” Tony Blinken, White House deputy national security adviser, told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“It’s likely that what they are trying to do is intimidate the Ukrainians. It’s possible that they are preparing to move in.”
Pro-Russian demonstrations were planned for Sunday in Ukrainian cities outside Crimea, a Black sea peninsula. The shows of favor for Moscow were scheduled for cities in Ukraine’s south and east, where there are many ethnic Russians.
On Saturday, six Russian special forces armored personnel carriers broke through the gates of Belbek air base, firing warning shots into the air, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense in Crimea told CNN. One journalist was injured in the attack, said Vldislav Seleznev.
In a separate incident, Pro-Russian self-defense forces stormed the Novofederoskoe military base, also in Crimea, taking control of it, a Ukraine Defense Ministry spokesman said.
Seleznev also said that Crimean self-defense forces and Russian special forces took a Ukrainian ship, the Slavutych.
The ship was captured “after a two-hour assault,” he said, though the Ukrainian ship’s crew members came ashore and didn’t suffer any injuries.
The White House urged Russia to open talks with the Ukrainian government. However, in a statement it also held the Russian military directly responsible for any casualties inflicted on Ukrainian military members, – whether from regular Russian troops or militias not wearing insignias.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will deploy a 100 observers throughout Ukraine in hopes of “reducing tensions and fostering peace, stability and security.” They will also check that the rights of ethnic minorities are being protected.
The United States and other Western powers still recognized that Crimea a part of Ukraine.
“We must not allow a new division of Europe,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Saturday in Kiev, where he met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and acting President Oleksandr Tuchynov.
Russia insists its actions are legitimate. Crimea had belonged to Russia until 1954, when it was given to Ukraine. This region has majority of majority ethnic Russian population and other historical ties to Russia.
EU-Russia summit was canceled, as the West seeks to increase Moscow’s isolation over its actions in Ukraine.
EU leaders imposed brand new sanctions against 12 individuals last week, bringing the total number of people facing EU asset freezes and travel bans to 33.
The United States announced its brand new round of sanctions against 20 individuals and a bank which U.S. says is linked to Putin and senior Russian officials. already announced sanctions on 11 individuals.
“What we’ve seen the President do in recent weeks, and what well see him do this bring the world together in support of Ukraine, to isolate Russia for its actions, and reassure our partners and allies in NATO and Europe,” Blinken said.
What would be the impact of these sanctions? Will it affect the Russia’s economy? What would be the relationship of these two nations between the United States and Russia? Is Russia going back to its original roots, that is, communism? Is Obama being tested in regard to his leadership all over the globe? Is the United States can proceed without any military intervention to resolve the issue in Ukraine?