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Ukraine => (Merkel’s + Obama’s) West Against (Putin’s) East..?

As the war crisis in Ukraine (pointed at Crimea) enters its 3rd week of tensions it is becoming clear that we are experiencing the first post-Soviet Cold War confrontation between the (Merkel’s + Obama‘s) West and (Putin’s) East:

Ukraine

BBC News - Ukraine crisis: US warns Russia not to annex Crimea

The US has warned Russia that any moves to annex Crimea would close the door to diplomacy. US Secretary of State John Kerry told Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that Crimea is part of Ukraine and Moscow should avoid military escalation. Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama has been discussing the deepening crisis with world leaders. It comes as warning shots were fired as a team of international observers was turned back from entering Crimea. The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said that no-one was hurt in the incident at Armyansk. It was the third time the OSCE has been prevented from entering Crimea, now in the control of pro-Russian forces. Moscow has been tightening its military grip on the Crimean peninsula, and the pro-Russian authorities there have called a 16 March referendum to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. The exchange between Mr Kerry and Mr Lavrov came in a telephone conversation on Saturday, a US State Department official said. ”He (John Kerry) made clear that continued military escalation and provocation in Crimea or elsewhere in Ukraine, along with steps to annex Crimea to Russia would close any available space for diplomacy, and he urged utmost restraint,” the official said.

As the Washington decided to suspend its military cooperation with Moscow, the Kremlin warns that it is considering to ban US inspection on Russian nuclear weapons, inside the frame of the New START agreement:

Russia Mulls Banning US Nuclear Arms Inspections – Source …

Russia’s Defense Ministry is considering a ban on US inspections of Russian nuclear weapons under the New START deal over the standoff in Ukraine, a ministry source told RIA Novosti on Saturday. The ban would be a reaction to the US decision to suspend military cooperation with Russia over Ukraine, said the source, who requested anonymity. Russia has vehemently opposed Ukraine’s pro-Western government that was installed last month following street clashes between police and the opposition led by far-right nationalist groups. Russia was also accused of backing separatists in the Ukrainian Republic of Crimea – which is planning to secede – and deploying thousands of troops there, though official Moscow has denied sending troops to the pro-Russian region. The New START, signed in 2010 by US President Barack Obama and his Russian then-counterpart Dmitry Medvedev, envisages curbing nuclear arsenals of both countries by half by 2021. The treaty’s implementation is overseen, in addition to satellite and remote monitoring, by 18 on-site inspections a year. The United States has not conducted any inspections under the New START since the start of this year, according to the US Department of State’s website.

On the other hand, the crisis periodically but also unpredictable escalates in Crimea:

Warning shots fired to turn monitors back from Crimea | Reuters

Shots were fired in Crimea to warn off an unarmed international team of monitors and at a Ukrainian observation plane, as the standoff between occupying Russian forces and besieged Ukrainian troops intensified. Russia’s seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, which began 10 days ago, has so far been bloodless, but its forces have become increasingly aggressive towards Ukrainian troops, who are trapped in bases and have offered no resistance. President Vladimir Putin declared a week ago that Russia had the right to invade Ukraine to protect Russian citizens, and his parliament has voted to change the law to make it easier to annex territory inhabited by Russian speakers. Tempers have grown hotter in the last two days, since the region’s pro-Moscow leadership declared it part of Russia and announced a March 16 referendum to confirm it. The worst face-off with Moscow since the Cold War has left the West scrambling for a response. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking to Russia’s foreign minister for the fourth day in a row, told Sergei Lavrov that annexing Crimea “would close any available space for diplomacy,” a U.S. official said.

More importantly, the preparations for a March 16th referendum in Crimea, are intensified, as Russia wants a political and powerful diplomatic card in its hands for enhancing Moscow’s diplomatic-negotiating position toward the West:

Crimea hopeful of referendum, ready to join Russia ‘by end March …

Crimea has fast-tracked preparations for the republic’s referendum and for its possible joining with Russia, statements from the autonomy’s leaders reveal. Though no decision has been made by Moscow, they say Crimea may be part of Russia by late March. Amid the ongoing media hysteria on the alleged Russian “invasion” of Crimea, the region’s pro-Russian leaders are staying calm, if not jubilant. Following claims that the Ukrainian hryvna may soon be swapped for the Russian ruble, and that the result of the March 16 referendum on the future of the Autonomous Republic is “easily predictable” by the mood of the majority of Crimea’s population, they are now saying that joining Russia could take place this month. The transition from one jurisdiction to the other is a complicated process, but I think in the case of favorable outcome of the referendum, the Crimeans will be able to feel as citizens of another country within one month – within March,” the speaker of the region’s Supreme Council, Vladimir Konstantinov, said, as quoted by RIA Novosti. Konstantinov then announced that if Crimea becomes Russian, the autonomy’s budget will become larger than under the Ukrainian standards. According to the speaker, the Crimean authorities “did not count on that” but the Russian side gave “guarantees” of budget enlargement.

The Standoff in Crimea is bloodless (till now) but the confrontation escalates unpredictably:

Warning shots fired to turn monitors back from Crimea | Reuters

Shots were fired in Crimea to warn off an unarmed international team of monitors and at a Ukrainian observation plane, as the standoff between occupying Russian forces and besieged Ukrainian troops intensified. Russia’s seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, which began 10 days ago, has so far been bloodless, but its forces have become increasingly aggressive towards Ukrainian troops, who are trapped in bases and have offered no resistance. President Vladimir Putin declared a week ago that Russia had the right to invade Ukraine to protect Russian citizens, and his parliament has voted to change the law to make it easier to annex territory inhabited by Russian speakers. Tempers have grown hotter in the last two days, since the region’s pro-Moscow leadership declared it part of Russia and announced a March 16 referendum to confirm it.

Finally, the Cold War is becoming a live geopolitical reality today, caused of powerful but different West-East interests in Ukraine



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