Thu, Mar 13, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Kiev’s Turchynov vows not to fight Russia over Crimea

AFP, KIEV and WASHINGTON

Ukraine’s acting president said he would not wage war over Crimea yesterday as the former Soviet state’s prime minster prepared to seek US President Barack Obama’s help against Russia’s expansionist threat.

The first meeting between Obama and Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk comes with the nation on the EU’s eastern border in danger of breaking apart when the predominantly ethnic Russian region holds a Moscow-backed referendum at the weekend on switching over to Kremlin rule.

Ukrainian Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said his heavily outnumbered army would never try to seize back the Black Sea peninsula from Russian troops, who made their land grab days after the Feb. 22 ouster in Kiev of pro-Kremlin former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

“We cannot launch a military operation in Crimea, as we would expose the eastern border and Ukraine would not be protected,” Turchynov said in an interview.

Turchynov also said Russian President Vladimir Putin had so far resisted intense international pressure and refused all contacts with Kiev aimed at resolving the worst breakdown in East-West relations since the Cold War.

“Unfortunately, for now Russia is rejecting a diplomatic solution to the conflict,” Turchynov said.

“They are refusing all contact at foreign ministry and top government level,” he said.

Meanwhile, the G7 most developed economies yesterday said the referendum in Crimea would have “no legal effect” and called on Russia to back down.

The G7 — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US — along with EU leaders called on Russia “to cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea contrary to Ukrainian law and in violation of international law,” according to a statement released by the White House.

“Any such referendum would have no legal effect,” they said. “Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process which would have no moral force. For all these reasons, we would not recognize the outcome.”

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