Speaking by telephone Monday, top military officials from NATO and the Russian government discussed the situation in Ukraine, with both sides expressing their concerns. NATO says it respects Ukraine’s sovereignty – and it hopes it’s not alone.
Ukraine’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych, has disappeared, after authorities announced an arrest warrant against him on charges of mass murder. His ouster led Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to say today that Yanukovych had faced an “armed mutiny,” the BBC says.
Russian leaders are also warning of possible risks to ethnic Russians in Crimea in eastern Ukraine, where Yanukovych is believed to have fled. The area has been the scene for pro-Russia demonstrations. As NPR’s Peter Kenyon reports for All Things Considered, Crimea and the city of Sevastopol are now seen as a potential flashpoint for further violence.
NPR’s Teri Schultz reports for our Newscast unit:
“Russian Chief of Staff Valeriy Gerasimov and NATO’s top commander Gen. Philip Breedlove spoke about Ukraine by telephone, but alliance officials wouldn’t give details of the conversation.
“As Moscow steps up its criticism of Ukrainian political developments, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu warns there’s no place for outside intervention in Ukraine’s sovereign decision-making.
“‘We fully respect those choices and we hope everybody else does too,’ she says.
“The European Union’s top diplomat, Catherine Ashton, is in Kiev to talk to the interim leadership there and to discuss what kind of financial assistance will be available once a new government is formed, which could happen as quickly as a day or two from now.
“EU officials decline to give figures, but the economic commission says what’s needed is ‘in the billions of euros.'”
Today’s conversation took place as U.S. and European officials are looking at how Ukraine’s fragile economy might be bolstered. The White House said Monday that the International Monetary Fund will take the lead in developing an aid package.