Ukraine Warns of War With Russia; Romney Blasts Obama Over Crisis
As Russia wrested one of the last military bases from Ukrainian control, Ukraine's leaders warned of escalation.
On ABC's "This Week," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia spoke of "growing" concerns that Ukraine and Russia could go to war.
“The Ukrainian government is trying to use all the peaceful means, diplomatic means to stop the Russians. But people are also ready to defend their homeland."
The sentiments were echoed by former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who vowed that "Ukraine will take Crimea back.”
Meanwhile, on CNN's "State of the Union," Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken said that a Russian build up of troops on the border could signify that the Russians "are preparing to move in."
Elsewhere on the Sunday shows, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney continued his foreign policy blast against President Obama's handling of the Crimean crisis. On "Face the Nation," he derided Obama's "naiveté" on Russian President Vladimir Putin's intentions and suggested that early American focus on Russia and the assembling of an international alliance might have prevented the invasion of Crimea.
"Had we communicated those things, there's always the potential that we could have kept them from invading a country and annexing it into their own."
Sen. Dick Durbin, fresh off his trip to Ukraine, fired back against Romney's charge, saying that "this notion that some sanction is going to stop a former colonel in the KGB from his ambitions of a Russian empire is naïve."
Following a Russian attack on a Crimean air force base yesterday, Ukraine's acting president now claims that Col. Yuliy Mamchur, the base's top commander, has been abducted.
President Oleksandr Turchynov, in a statement, said Mamchur was "abducted" by the forces. He didn't specify where Mamchur is believed to be held.
Turchynov's statement was met with some pushback from Vitali Klitschko, a leader of the protests that ultimately brought down Ukraine's pro-Russian government last month. Klitschko believes that Mamchur "is being held by the Russian military in a jail in Sevastopol, the Crimean city that is the base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet."
Given that Mamchur's base was stormed by Russian forces, that kind of sounds a little bit like the same thing.
One Ukrainian soldier was injured during a hostile standoff at a military base in Crimea earlier today. Firing their weapons in the air, Russian troops stormed through the gates at Belbek air force base and forced a group of 150 Ukrainian soldiers to surrender.
A spokesman for the Ukrainian military in Crimea said Russian troops earlier Saturday had taken a base at Novofyodorovka, near the city of Saki.
The solidifying of Russia's military grip over the region comes one day after Russian President Vladimir Putin affixed his signature to the formal annexation of Crimea. Last night, the skies in Moscow and in Crimea were lit by fireworks as celebrations broke out. Meanwhile, earlier yesterday, the sanctions put forth by the United States against Russia began to do their thing.
The stock market in Moscow took a beating Friday morning and international ratings agencies downgraded Russia's outlook amid the threat of harsher sanctions -- including possible broad economic sanctions against Russian institutions.
Elsewhere, the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk was the venue for a large pro-Russia demonstration. The crowd called for its own referendum to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.