As the social unrest crisis in Ukraine escalates by increasingly inflaming civil war in the Eastern part of the country, the West considers further sanctions against Russia. On the other hand, the Kremlin evaluates its multidimensional frame of relations with Beijing:
(Photo Credit: BBC)
The EU and the US say they will impose “further costs” on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, as unrest continues in the east of the country. EU foreign ministers said on Monday they would expand a list of names targeted by EU sanctions. Tension has been rising in Ukraine, with pro-Russian activists occupying buildings in more eastern towns. Also on Monday, the US said a Russian fighter jet repeated close-range passes over a US warship in the Black Sea. US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin spoke by phone on Monday evening. Mr Putin told Mr Obama that allegations of Russian interference in Ukraine were “based on questionable information”. The unrest in the east was the result “of the unwillingness and inability of the leadership in Kiev to take into account the interests of the Russian-speaking population”, the Kremlin said. The White House said Mr Obama told Mr Putin of his “grave concern” about Russian support for armed separatists and he urged the Russian leader to use his influence with pro-Moscow groups to convince them to leave occupied buildings. He warned: “The costs Russia already has incurred will increase if those actions persist.” After a meeting in Luxembourg, EU foreign ministers said they had decided to expand “the list of those subject to assets freezes and visa bans”.
On the other hand, the main question remains on the pragmatic ability of Kiev’s government to control and stabilize the situation in East Ukrainian cities:
Pro-Russian separatists on Monday ignored an ultimatum to leave occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine and instead seized more buildings as the government failed to follow through on a threatened military crackdown. U.S. President Barack Obama criticized Russia in a telephone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin later on Monday, saying Moscow’s actions in Ukraine were not conducive to a diplomatic solution. The Kremlin said it had requested the call. The White House said the call was frank and direct. ”President Putin called on Barack Obama to do his utmost to use the opportunities that the United States has to prevent the use of force, and bloodshed,” the Kremlin said in a statement.
More importantly, Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador refers to an “anti-terrorist operation” in progress:
Scores of pro-Russian protesters storm a Ukrainian police headquarters and confront the officers inside. Hundreds outside back up the intruders, chanting. A Russian flag flies from the structure as the crowd listens to activists with a megaphone at the entrance. Monday was the day the Ukrainian government demanded pro-Russian activists give up. Instead, they appear to have overrun another key building in yet another eastern Ukrainian city. Protesters forced police officers out of their four-story headquarters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Horlivka, witnesses said, adding a new complication for a Kiev government worried about demonstrators’ escalating activity in the east and a Russian neighbor that it accuses of fomenting the discontent. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov had given pro-Russian protesters in other eastern Ukrainian cities until 2 a.m. ET to disarm or face a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation” by Ukraine’s armed forces. But the deadline passed with no sign that it was heeded, including in the eastern city of Donetsk, where protesters have held the regional government building for more than a week. Similar deadlines in the past have come and gone with no consequences. Speaking to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday, Ukraine’s U.N. Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev said it was his understanding the “anti-terrorist operation is in the process.” He talked about the difficulties involved in finding a solution to the crisis, given that women and children are inside the buildings, which — in turn — are surrounded by peaceful protesters. ”It’s really very difficult to find a solution to avoid the blood. A combination of different approaches should be used,” said Sergeyev, calling for dialogue. A video on online streaming service Ustream purports to show scores of people entering the police headquarters in Horlivka, a city of 300,000. CNN could not independently verify the video.
But, as the civil unrest escalates, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pays an official visit to Beijing today, on preparing the forthcoming visit of President Putin: