Tensions are rising between Russia and the west as armed gunmen take control of two airports in the Crimea region of the Ukraine on Friday. Russia is denying that any of their forces were involved in the seizures.
But, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov has accused the Russian naval forces in in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol of taking over the airport there and other Russian forces of taking over the civilian airport in Simferopol.
Avakov Facebooked today that at the Belbek Airport, unmarked, camoflaged and armed military had surrounded the exterior of the airport. He also said that about 119 soldiers armed with automatic weapons had also arrived at the Simferopol airport in trucks. Avakov said those armed gunment did not hide their affiliation with the Russian Federation Forces. “I consider what has happened to be an armed invasion and occupation in violation of all international agreements and norms,” Avakov said on his Facebook page.
It was on Wednesday that Russia announced war games near the Ukrainian border and placed 150,000 Russian troops on high alert. Sergei Lavrov told Secretary of State John Kerry that the exercises were pre-planned and had nothing to do with the present situation in the Ukraine.
Ousted Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, surfaced in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don after his disappearance from Ukraine and convened a press conference. During the conference, he accused the west of backing the protest movement that resulted in his ousting and criminal charges. He also expressed surprise that Russian President Vladimir Putin has not weighed in publicly about the Ukrainian crisis.
Speaking in Russian, Yanukovych said, “I intend to continue the fight for the future of Ukraine against those who, with fear and with terror, are attempting to replace the power,” but, in the same speech the ex-president called on Russia to step in. “Russia cannot be indifferent, cannot be a bystander watching the fate of as close a partner as Ukraine,” Yanukovich said at the news conference. “Russia must use all means at its disposal to end the chaos and terror gripping Ukraine.”
Yanukovych says he is still the legitimate president of the country in the midst of financial crisis. But, the revelation of his expensive lifestyle has set much of the Ukrainian public against him.
Protesters in the country teetering on the brink of default, were agast at the lavishness of Yanukovych’s mansion when they took it over after his ouster and disappearance from the Ukraine, He had told the Ukrainian public that he lived in a small home on a small piece of land on the property. It was found in records at the mansion site that Yanukovych had spent $2.3 million to redecorate his dining hall and tea room in the very expensive mansion, had new curtains put in at a cost of $110,000, had a statue of a Wild Boar commissioned at $115,000. Records also showed that Yanukovych spent $1.5 million on plants, and another $2.3 million for wooden decor.
It is believed that at least $35 billion in loans has disappeared from the government coffers in the three years that Yanukovych had been in power.
The protests and riots in Kiev began after Yanukovych backed out of deals with the European Union and instead opted to tighten relationships with Russia after Russia offered a $15 billion bailout to the Ukrainian government. That bailout was put on hold after the provisional government has been put in place in Kiev. Scores of protesters were killed during the crisis in the capitol and Yanukovych is now wanted for those killings.