The tit-for-tat sabre-rattling and rhetoric continues to build ahead of this weekend's planned referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region. This morning has seen 3 new threads beginning with Ukraine's "live-fire" exercises involving T-64B tanks. This was then followed by warnings from Russia of "consequences" of "unconditionally indulging radical elements" in Ukraine calling US financial aid "illegal" which was swiftly responded to by the State Department exclaiming it "unacceptable" that Russian forces take matters into their own hands and "do not create the right environment for diplomacy." Not positive...
Ukraine did its own sabre-rattling:
- *T-64B TANKS INVOLVED IN EXERCISE, LIVE-FIRE TRAINING: MINISTRY
The Russians are not happy
Russia says planned US financial aid to Ukraine is illegal
Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that planned U.S. financial aid to Ukraine is illegal and outside American legal norms since it would be funding an illegitimate regime.
"By all criteria, issuing funding to an illegitimate regime that seized power by force is unlawful and goes beyond the framework of the American legal system," the ministry said in a statement.
The statement echoed assertions made earlier in the day by ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich. The ministry also warned Washington about the consequences of "unconditionally indulging radical elements" in Ukraine.
And Kerry has his own perspective:
U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SAYS RUSSIAN RESPONSES TO U.S. QUESTIONS ON UKRAINE DO NOT CREATE RIGHT ENVIRONMENT FOR DIPLOMACY
Kerry told Lavrov it is unacceptable that Russian forces and irregulars continue to take matters into their own hands in Ukraine
Of course, this remains a constant distraction from the fact that Russian boots are on the ground in Crimea and the US (and the West) are stuck with how to "off-ramp" the escalating Russian threats without sanctions that would blow-back on to their own economies.
And then Merkel chipped in...
- *MERKEL SAYS RUSSIA IS ANNEXING CRIMEA, PARTY OFFICIAL SAYS