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Dhaka Tribune

Ukraine mobilises after Putin’s ‘declaration of war’

Update : 02 Mar 2014, 08:52 PM

Ukraine mobilised for war yesterday and Washington threatened to isolate Russia economically, after President Vladimir Putin declared he had the right to invade his neighbour, creating Moscow’s biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War.

“This is not a threat: this is actually the declaration of war to my country,” Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, head of a pro-Western government that took power when Russian ally Viktor Yanukovich fled last week, said.

Putin obtained permission from his parliament on Saturday to use military force to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine, spurning Western pleas not to intervene.

Russian forces have already bloodlessly seized Crimea - an isolated Black Sea peninsula where Moscow has a naval base. They surrounded several small Ukrainian military outposts there and demanded the Ukrainian troops disarm. Some refused, leading to standoffs, although no shots were fired.

Russia has staged war games with 150,000 troops along the land border, but so far they have not crossed. However, pro-Russian demonstrators have marched in the east of the country and have raised Russian flags over government buildings in several cities, in what Kiev says is a move orchestrated by Moscow to justify a wider invasion.

Ukraine’s security council ordered the general staff to immediately put all armed forces on highest alert.

The Defence Ministry was ordered to stage a call-up of reserves - theoretically all men up to 40 in a country with universal male conscription, though Ukraine would struggle to find extra guns or uniforms for significant numbers of them.

US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia for what he called an “incredible act of aggression” and threatened “very serious repercussions”.

Kerry said Moscow still had a “right set of choices” to defuse the crisis. Otherwise, G8 countries and other nations were prepared “to go to the hilt to isolate Russia. They are prepared to isolate Russia economically. The rouble is already going down. Russia has major economic challenges.” 

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