Estonian Defense Minister says Putin readying to invade Eastern Ukraine

Posted on 3/14/2014 7:32 AM in World


The Estonian Defense Minister says that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to “invade eastern Ukraine” after seizing Crimea. Events in Ukraine “clearly show that the Russian Federation only accepts force,” Estonian Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in an e-mailed statement today. To deter Putin, “a clear message needs to be sent that an attack will cost the aggressor dearly.”

“In addition to occupying the Crimea, Putin is preparing to also invade eastern Ukraine,” Estonian Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in an e-mailed statement today that cited a speech in Tallinn. “To deter him, a clear message needs to be sent that an attack will cost the aggressor dearly.”

“Russia is aware of its responsibility for the lives of its countrymen and citizens and reserves the right to defend people,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website today, a day after a demonstrator died in fighting between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian protesters.

Russia warned that Ukraine’s government has lost control of the country today, fueling concern the Kremlin may extend a military intervention as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called for it to halt a takeover of the disputed province.

The U.S. and the European Union are threatening sanctions against Russia if it doesn’t back down from annexing the Black Sea province, which is holding a referendum in two days to join Ukraine’s former Soviet-era master. Russia, which Ukraine’s Kiev-based cabinet says has taken over the southern region and is massing troops on its border, said a deadly clash in the eastern Donetsk region showed the government isn’t in control.

Russia may be provoking some of the clashes to justify extending a military incursion, said Oleksiy Haran, a professor of comparative politics at the Kyiv-Mohyla academy.

“Russia is destabilizing the situation in eastern Ukraine on purpose and is ready to use anything it can,” Haran said by phone today. “Provocations are resulting in people’s deaths, and then Russia uses it to begin wide-scale aggression against eastern Ukraine’s regions.”

 

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