Sunday 28 December 2014

NATO flights set to monitor Russians on Ukraine border

Yekaterina Kravtsova Moscow

Published 11/03/2014 | 02:30

Sergei Aksyonov, Crimea's pro-Russian prime minister, stands as a member of a pro-Russian self defence unit takes an oath to Crimea government in Simferopol March 10, 2014. Russian forces consolidated their hold on Ukraine's Crimea peninsula on Monday, taking over a military hospital and a missile base as officials geared up for a referendum on the region's future. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Sergei Aksyonov, Crimea's pro-Russian prime minister, stands as a member of a pro-Russian self defence unit takes an oath to Crimea government in Simferopol

NATO will start reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in neighbouring Ukraine where Russian forces have taken control of Crimea, the alliance said yesterday.

Ukraine is not a NATO member but Russia's intervention in Crimea has alarmed neighbouring countries, including alliance members that used to be dominated by the Soviet Union.

Acting on a recommendation from the alliance's top military commander, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO ambassadors gave the go-ahead to the flights, a NATO spokesman said.

"These flights will enhance the alliance's situational awareness," he said.

Yesterday Russian nationalist forces gathered in central Moscow to ask the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to take more decisive measures in Crimea.

Several hundred people were holding Russian flags and banners reading "Sevastopol is a Russian city", while leaders of nationalist movements were pronouncing that Crimea would help Russia "to restore its lost glory".

The well-known Russian nationalist Eduard Limonov said from the stage that Russia must return all its territories lost after the USSR collapse.

"Kiev is mother of Russian cities, Crimea is just a first step," said an activist of Velikoe Otechestvo party.

Several attendees at the rally suggested they had been compelled to attend in order to create the impression there was strong support among Russians for Mr Putin's actions in Ukraine.


Roman Kuznetsov, who was holding an anti-American banner, said he came to the rally because he wanted to support Russian authorities. But when asked what he thought about current Ukrainian authorities, he said he liked them.

"I am not good at politics," he said eventually.

Several people speaking from the stage said that they were Ukrainian refugees in Russia and that it was dangerous for them to stay in Ukraine.

But human rights groups said earlier that there were no refugees from Ukraine in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging Western politicians and media to pay attention to the violations of rights of Russians in Ukraine. The statement said several demonstrators were injured in Kharkiv, after masked men started to shoot.

It also said that seven Russian journalists were arrested in Dnepropetrovsk and that Ukrainian authorities had closed the border for Russians going to Ukraine. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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