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Europe

Obama seeks to 'further isolate' Russia over Ukraine

© Photo: AFP

Video by Philip CROWTHER

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-04

Tensions are high following Monday’s escalation of Russian military pressure in the predominantly Russian-speaking Ukraine region of Crimea. Early Tuesday, President Vladimir Putin ordered troops on military exercises back to base.

Here is a summary of recent events:

* President Vladimir Putin has ordered Russian soldiers, who had been holding military exercises in western Russia, back to base, the Kremlin says.

* US President Barack Obama met for over two hours on Monday with his national security advisers and discussed ways the United States and its allies could "further isolate" Russia over its military intervention in Ukraine, a White House official said.

* The US also said it was putting on hold all military-to-military engagements between the US and Russia.

* Ukraine's ousted leader, Viktor Yanukovich, sent a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin requesting that he use Russia's military to restore law and order in Ukraine, Moscow's UN envoy told a UN Security Council meeting on Monday.

* The country has plunged into chaos and anarchy," Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin read from an unofficial translation of the letter while speaking to reporters in New York. "The country is in the grip of outright terror and violence driven by the West. In this context, I appeal to the President of Russia Vladimir V. Putin to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to re-establish the rule of law, peace, order, stability and to protect the people of Ukraine."

'Open acts of terror under influence of West'

* Russian forces have seized much of the autonomous Ukrainian region of Crimea, an isolated Black Sea peninsula with an ethnic Russian majority, without firing a shot. All eyes are now on whether Russia makes a military move in predominantly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow demonstrators have marched and raised Russian flags over public buildings in several cities in the last three days.

* Pro-Russian protesters besieged lawmakers inside the regional government building in the eastern city of Donetsk, Yanukovich's hometown, on Monday in the latest such action.

* In Perevalnoye, half way between the Crimean capital of Simferopol and the Black Sea, hundreds of Russian troops in trucks and armoured vehicles - without national insignia on their uniforms - were surrounding two military compounds, confining Ukrainian soldiers, who have refused to surrender, as virtual prisoners.

* Ukraine called up reservists on Sunday after Putin's action provoked what British Foreign Secretary William Hague called "the biggest crisis in Europe in the twenty-first century".

* Russia's Black Sea fleet denied earlier reports by the Interfax news agency that it had given Ukrainian forces in Crimea an ultimatum to surrender by early on Tuesday or face a military assault.

* There has been a marked economic knock-on effect from the tense standoff, with Russian stocks, bonds and the rouble plunging as Putin's forces tightened their grip on the Russian-speaking Crimea.

* The Moscow stock market fell 11.3 percent, wiping nearly $60 billion off the value of Russian companies – outstripping the cost of Russia’s Sochi Winter Olympic Games.
The east-west tension also knocked 2-3 percent off European stock markets and one percent off Wall Street, and sent safe haven gold to a four-month high. Chicago wheat futures rose more than 5 percent and corn about 4 percent as tensions in Ukraine stoked fears of disruption to shipments from the Black Sea, one of the world's key grain-exporting zones Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, which supplies Europe through Ukraine, was down nearly 14 percent.

* Western leaders have unanimously warned against escalating Russian military intervention. The European Union also threatened unspecified "targeted measures" unless Russia returns its forces to their bases and opens talks with Ukraine's new government. Leaders of the bloc's 28 nations will hold an emergency summit on Thursday.

* NATO allies will hold emergency talks on the crisis in Ukraine on Tuesday, for the second time in three days, following a request from Poland, the alliance said.

(FRANCE 24 with AP)

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Date created : 2014-03-03

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