Border guards: Russian troops flow into Crimea

A man holds a sign during a protest march in support of peace in the Ukraine in Times Square in New York, March 2, 2014. (Reuters)

Ten Russian combat helicopters and eight military cargo planes started flowing into the Ukraine's Crimea, in violation of accords between the two countries during the past 24 hours, Ukrainian border guards said on Monday.

Four Russian warships have been in the port of Sevastopol since Saturday.

The United States has called on the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to “immediately” send an observer mission to Ukraine, the U.S. envoy said as the pan-European body met in Vienna.

“We call today for OSCE observers to be sent immediately to Ukraine,” ambassador Daniel Baer said in a speech, released on Monday, to the organization.

He said that the OSCE “should make the decision today to move forward with plans and preparation for a monitoring mission immediately.”

He said this would “monitor and prevent conflict; ensure the protection of human rights of members of minorities; prevent border conflict; promote respect for territorial integrity; and to maintain peace, stability and security in the region.”

His comments were made at a OSCE Preparatory Committee Meeting on Ukraine on Sunday afternoon in Vienna, followed Monday morning by a gathering of the OSCE Special Permanent Council.

Created during the Cold War as a forum for dialogue between East and West and now covering most of the northern hemisphere, conducts election monitoring, arms control and conflict prevention activities worldwide.

Meanwhile, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said he still considers deposed President Viktor Yanukovich as the legitimate head of the Ukrainian state.

“Yes, the authority of president Yanukovich is practically negligible but this does not cancel out the fact that according to the constitution of Ukraine he is still the legitimate head of state,” Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page.

He added that Russia does not recognize the new authorities that unconstitutionally emerged to power after the ouster of Yanukovich.

The official did not refer directly to a parliament approval won by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin over the weekend, allowing him to send Russian troops to Ukraine amid a Crimea standoff.

Yanukovich fled to Russia after mass protests demanded his overthrow. His first public appearance came on Friday, during a press conference he gave in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don in Russia.

Medvedev said his country was ready to develop “multi-faceted respectful relations with brotherly Ukraine.”

Ukraine was “not for the group of people who shed blood… and took power in violation of the constitution,” said Medvedev, playing on a widely-held perception that hardcore nationalists who only cater to a minority of Ukrainians make up the new government.

The prime minister added that if Yanukovich is guilty of crimes then charges should have been stated against him in Ukraine.

“Everything else is just arbitrary. A seizure of power. And meaning that this new order will be very unstable. It will end in a new takeover. With new blood,” he warned.

(With AFP)

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