It appears Obama's latest "one hour" conversation with Putin has just made things downshift from bad to worse.
Moments ago Russia accused the European Union of taking an "extremely unconstructive position" by freezing talks on easing visa barriers that complicate travel between Russia and the EU over Ukraine.
"Russia will not accept the language of sanctions and threats" and will retaliate if sanctions are imposed, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement about agreements reached at an emergency EU summit on Thursday.
And assuring that the imminent Crimean referendum due in just over a week will rapidly deteriorate the current detente was overnight news that Russia's upper house of parliament will support Crimea in its bid to join the Russian Federation, the speaker of the upper house of parliament said Friday. "If the people of Crimea decide to join Russia in the referendum, we, as the upper house, will certainly support this decision," Valentina Matvienko said at a meeting with Vladimir Konstantinov, his counterpart in the Crimean parliament.
WSJ reports that a delegation from the Crimean peninsula were in Moscow to meet parliamentarians who warmly welcomed the guests and signaled their willingness to support the neighboring region.
Shortly thereafter, the western inspectors learned they are not exactly welcome in the Crimea later on Friday when a group of military and civilian personnel from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will be making another attempt to enter the Crimean peninsula, after being stopped at two border checkpoints the day before, a spokesman for the organization said.
"The group is on their way from Kherson, where they spent the night, and is heading to a checkpoint in the area of a village called Chungar," Shiv Sharma said, adding that the group of about 40 people is scheduled to arrive around 1330 local time (1130 GMT).
But while the OSCE inspectors will hardly receive a warm welcome anywhere in the pro-Russian parts of the Ukraine, one thing is certain: while for the next week the world is stuck listening to more hollow rhetoric, once the Crimea formally splits from the Ukraine and joins Russia as per the will of the parliament and the people, that's when things get rough, as that will be the formal expansion of Russia into a region of the Ukraine which everyone in the west has called an unconstitutional process, while Russia itself calls the coup that overthrew Yanukovich just as unconstitutional.
So enjoy the downtime: in mid-March things get hot again. Or, if you live in the Ukraine, quite cold:
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