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Wed Nov 26 10:50:08 SAST 2014

Putin thumbs nose at West

Reuters | 03 March, 2014 00:00
Putin got permission from his rubber-stamp parliament on Saturday to use military force "to protect Russians" in Ukraine. File photo
Image by: HANDOUT / Reuters

Ukraine mobilised for war yesterday and Washington threatened to isolate Russia economically after President Vladimir Putin declared that he had the right to invade his neighbour, creating Moscow's most serious confrontation with the West since the Cold War.

"This is not a threat: this is a declaration of war against my country," said Ukraine's prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, head of a pro-Western government that took power when Russian ally Viktor Yanukovich fled last week.

Putin got permission from his rubber-stamp parliament on Saturday to use military force "to protect Russians" in Ukraine.

Russian forces have already seized Crimea - the Black Sea Ukrainian peninsula where Moscow has a huge naval base.

Yesterday they surrounded several small Ukrainian military outposts in the Crimea and demanded that Ukrainian troops disarm. Some refused, leading to standoffs, but no shots were fired.

Russia has staged war games with 150000 troops along the land border with Ukraine but so far they have not crossed.

Pro-Russian demonstrators have marched in the east of the country and have raised Russian flags over government buildings in several cities, a move Kiev says is orchestrated by Moscow to justify an invasion.

Ukraine's security council ordered that the armed forces be put on highest alert. US Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia for "an incredible act of aggression" and threatened "very serious repercussions".

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