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Tensions in Ukraine Grow Amid Russian Military Drills

Published: February 27, 2014 (Issue # 1799)



  • Pro-Russian protesters, left, clash with Crimean Tatars in front of a local government building in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, on Feb. 26.
    Photo: Darko Vojinovic / AP

Russia's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday warned of growing extremism in Ukraine, and President Vladimir Putin ordered the Defense Ministry to conduct military preparedness drills in the western military district bordering Ukraine.

Stirring fears of a possible invasion, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the armed forces in that area were already "combat ready," Interfax reported.

Related: Warrant Issued for Deposed Ukraine Leader for Mass Murder

The order from Putin — which Shoigu later said was in no way connected with the situation in Ukraine — came as tensions grew in Ukraine's autonomous republic of Crimea, with pro-Russian demonstrators engaging in a standoff with pro-Ukrainian ones in front of the Supreme Council building in the capital, Simferopol.

Russia watchers have anxiously been waiting to see what Putin's next move might be amid growing uncertainty over Ukraine's future. The official response so far has been mostly limited to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's criticism of the West's "meddling" in Ukraine and warnings of extremists among Kiev's new leadership.

Related: Ukraine Awaits Impact of New Government's Tension With Russia

On Wednesday, Lavrov said that any cooperation with Ukraine was only possible if requested by "legitimate authorities," reiterating Russia's refusal to recognize the new Ukrainian government and denouncing Yanukovych's ouster as an illegitimate coup.

At a meeting with Lamberto Zannier, general secretary of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Lavrov urged the OSCE to condemn nationalist sentiment in Ukraine and the recent legislative move to downgrade the status of the Russian language.

Russia's Foreign Ministry echoed Lavrov's remarks in a statement released Wednesday.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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