While you were sleeping, Russia seized the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine, and Ukraine mobilized its armed forces—reservists included—to respond to Putin’s declaration of war. Things are escalating quickly in Crimea, where the Ukrainian and Russian navies are currently locked in a standoff; both fleets are based on the Crimean coast in Sevastopol. Ukrainian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky—who was appointed yesterday after the previous Navy chief resigned—just defected to the Crimean Autonomous Government, joining Russia’s side. The Ukrainian government has initiated criminal proceedings against him. Some Ukrainian military units already voluntarily switched sides, and they were joined by Ukraine’s flagship vessel yesterday. Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Askenov, head of the Russian Unity Party, announced the creation of the Crimean Naval Forces today. Also today, in response to Berezovsky, Crimean military commander Mykola Balaban reaffirmed his pledge of allegiance to the people of Ukraine.
Ukrainians have answered the government’s call to arms with fervor:
— Maxim Tucker (@MaxRTucker) March 2, 2014
"This is a red alert. This is not a threat. This is actually a declaration of war to my country," Arseniy Yatsenyuk, interim prime minister of Ukraine, told reporters earlier today. The Ukrainian parliament agreed to assemble a delegation to handle potential negotiations with Russia, but meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that a Russian military convoy was headed for Simferopol, the Crimean capital. In addition to taking over government buildings in Crimea, Russian troops have now surrounded two military bases in Crimea in an attempt to take over Ukrainian arms, the Guardian reports. So far, the Ukrainians are refusing to give in:
I'm inside marines base in Feodosia. Long negotiations going on behind closed doors. Russians want them to give up weapons. So far refusing.— Shaun Walker (@shaunwalker7) March 2, 2014
This morning, Secretary of State John Kerry warned that Russia could lose its seat in the G8 if it does not pull out of Ukraine. "If Russia wants to be a G8 country, it needs to behave like a G8 country, and I guarantee you that everybody is determined that if this cannot be resolved in a reasonable, modern, 21st Century manner, there are going to be repercussions,” Kerry said. The U.S., Britain, and France have all pulled out of preliminary meetings for the upcoming G8 summit scheduled to take place in Sochi this June.
Meanwhile, many Ukrainians are fleeing the country—Reuters reports that about 675,000 people, most of whom are probably ethnically Russian, have relocated to Russia over the past two months. Cars are backed up at the border:
Russian TV shows cars queuing to "flee East Ukraine to Russia," is ACTUALLY average day on Polish border town Shegini pic.twitter.com/LwtTcxM2jY— Laura Mills (@lauraphylmills) March 2, 2014
And around the world, protests broke out against the Russian incursion:
— Andrej Novak (@andrejfnovak) March 2, 2014
Russia Times, of course, is dutifully reporting on pro-Russia protests:
— RT (@RT_com) March 2, 2014