Ukraine Proposes Demilitarized Zone; Russians Seize Second Navy Base

Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 04:37 PM

 

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Ukraine on Wednesday proposed that Crimea, scene of a Russian-backed armed takeover, be declared a demilitarized zone by the United Nations with a pull-out by both Russian and Ukrainian forces.

"The Ukrainian government will immediately appeal to the United Nations to recognize Crimea as a demilitarized zone and take necessary measures for Russian forces to leave Crimea and prepare conditions for re-deployment of Ukrainian forces," security chief Andriy Parubiy said.

Tensions continued to escalate as Russian forces took control of another Ukrainian naval base in Crimea late on Wednesday and raised the Russian flag, a Ukrainian naval officer said.

Major Eduard Kusnarenko said there was no violence as the troops seized the naval transportation facility in Bakhchisaray, about 19 miles southwest of the regional capital Simferopol.

"Russian troops came and asked us to leave the base, which we did," he told Reuters outside the base. "We will try again tomorrow to return to our post."

Russian troops fired a shot in the air as journalists tried to approach the gate to the base.

Kusnarenko said he and 14 other servicemen had been driven away from the Bakhchisaray base and could not get in touch with their superiors in Sevastopol or with the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

Parubiy told journalists that in the face of the growing likelihood of military confrontation with Russia the Ukrainian foreign ministry had been given the task of introducing visas for Russians visiting the ex-Soviet republic.

Crimea voted for union with Russia in a referendum on Sunday and President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty on Tuesday on annexing the Black Sea peninsula. Ukraine and Western leaders do not recognize the outcome of the referendum.

Referring to his demilitarization proposal, Parubiy, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said he hoped the United Nations would support the idea.

"This formula is the best for de-escalation ... We hope that common sense will prevail," he said.


© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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