He lives!: Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych made his second public appearance since fleeing Ukraine on February 22. Speaking from the Russian town of Rostov-on-Don, Yanukovych first dispelled the rumors of his death that circulated in Kiev last week: “I am alive. Although I can not say that I feel good,” he began. He went on to call the Ukrainian government “a gang of neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists” and asked of Ukrainians who had become “patrons of dark forces in the West”: “Are you blind? Did you lose your memory? Have you forgotten what fascism is?” Yanukovych declared that he remains the legitimate president of Ukraine and “also the Supreme Commander…I’m alive,” he reminded his audience once more, after declaring the Ukrainian presidential election scheduled for May 25 illegitimate. “I will be back in Kiev.” Here’s a full English transcript of the speech.
Yanukovych’s speech coincided with a fall in the Russian stock market, which still has not recovered from the over 13 percent drop it incurred as Russian forces invaded Crimea, Lenta.ru reports.
Ukrainska Pravda published excerpts of Yanukovych’s notebooks, which confirm secret meetings with Putin and government bribes. The notebooks confirm that Putin pressured Yanukovych to crackdown on protesters on the Maidan.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Igor Tenyukh said that Ukraine had not yet used force against Russian troops in Crimea because Russia had not yet acknowledged the presence of its troops in the peninsula and “any [Ukrainian] use of force in this case would be interpreted as the use of force against its own people,” Ukrainska Pravda reports. The real reason, Tenyukh went on to explain, is that the Ukrainian army is not prepared for confrontation with Russia, which now has 220,000 soldiers, 150 aircrafts, and 60 naval ships on Ukrainian territory. Of the 41,000 Ukrainian soldiers, only 6,000 were prepared for battle when Russia invaded Crimea, Tenyukh said. He appealed to the Ukrainian parliament for additional military funding.
Ukraine will form a national guard, acting President Oleksander Turchinov announced Tuesday. He added that the country’s armed forces were so mishandled under Yanukovych that they now had to be rebuilt "effectively from scratch,” Reuters reports.
The Crimean parliament adopted a declaration of independence on Tuesday. It begins: “We, members of the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol City Council, based on the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and many other international instruments recognizing the right of peoples to self-determination, as well as taking into account the support from the international Court of Justice on Kosovo from July 22, 2010 the fact that the unilateral declaration of independence part of the state does not violate any rules of international law and decide together…” and goes on to declare Crimea’s right to join the Russian federation.
Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk warned Crimeans of what awaits them should they join the Russian Federation. “I guess they do not know about what happened in Abkhazia, Ossetia, Transnistria,” said Yatsenyuk, according to Ukrainska Pravda. In Abkhazia, government funds have been “stolen by criminal so-called separatist governments...Individuals have no salaries, no work, no security...Crimea does not deserve such a fate,” he said, reminding Crimeans that they will probably be able to rely on the support of the North Korean and Syrian governments.
Yatseniuk said the Kremlin has ignored his requests for five days now, the Kyiv Post reports.
Crimea is facing severely limited funding. The Ukrainian government froze its accounts and it will have to wait for the $1 billion Russia promised it would receive after annexation, Gazeta.ru explains.
Ukraine’s parliament appealed to the U.K. and U.S. to take stronger action to help preserve the country’s borders as the two countries (along with Russia) agreed to do in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. The parliament also delivered an ultimatum threatening to dissolve the Crimean government unless it cancels the March 16 referendum that will determine whether the peninsula is annexed to Russia, The Guardian reports.
The U.K expects to finalize the terms of its impending sanctions against Russia on Tuesday.
Secretary John Kerry told his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov that he will not meet with Putin until the Russian president considers U.S. proposals on resolving the crisis, according to BBC. Putin and Lavrov held a televised one-on-one meeting on Monday in which Lavrov tells Putin the U.S. proposals for negotiating the crisis are “not suitable,” BBC reports. Russia is drafting counter-proposals.
A delegation of U.S. Senators will visit Kiev on Friday, the Kyiv Post reports.
Putin personally invited Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemiliov to the Kremlin.
Reporters Without Borders issued a statement regarding the journalists who disappeared this week in Crimea: “We are alarmed by the steady escalation in violations of journalists’ right in Crimea, which is turning into a lawless region controlled by armed bands whose anonymity reinforces the impunity. The frequency of deliberate attacks on journalists and the scale of the censorship suggest a desire to turn the region into a black hole for news and information,” said the organization’s Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.
Where is Sergiy Kurchenko, Ukraine’s missing oligarch?
Russian politicians asked FIFA to rescind the U.S.’s membership and disqualify US teams from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil “in light of US’s military aggression against several sovereign states such as Yugoslavia with no particular reason.” Last week, two Republican senators asked that FIFA do the same to Russia and additionally stip the Russian Federation if its right to host the 2018 competition.
Europe’s last dictator Alexander Lukashenko said that corruption was responsible for the crisis: “Only an idiot after the events in Ukraine would not make conclusions” about corruption, he said. Lukashenko promised to unveil results of corruption investigations in Belarus, one of the most corrupt, authoritarian regimes in the world.