Ukraine accuses Russia of inciting new 'Crimean war'

Ukraine has accused Russia of stirring up anti-US and anti-Nato protests on the Crimean peninsula where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based.

The allegation - made by the Our Ukraine party of President Viktor Yushchenko - follows a week of anti-Nato protests in Crimea that appear to have caught the government unawares.

Emotions are running high ahead of a multinational military exercise on the peninsula, called Sea Breeze, due to begin in July.

Coaches carrying US Marine reservists have been stoned, the Ukrainian Socialists have demanded the resignation of the Defence Minister, Anatoliy Hrytsenko, and Russian MPs have called for Crimea to be taken away from Ukraine and incorporated into Russia.

The dispute comes as Ukrainian politicians are struggling to form a coalition government more than two months after the election that confirmed the country's apparently irreparable split into pro-Russian and pro-Western camps.

The issue of Nato is divisive; President Yushchenko, the leader of the 2004 "orange revolution", wants his country to move closer towards the EU and Nato with a view to joining both organisations. But while many Ukrainians would be happy to become part of the EU, two-thirds of the 47 million population is strongly opposed to joining Nato.

Pro-Russian forces believe it would be "high treason" to join Nato and feelings run particularly high in Russian-speaking Crimea where Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based as a hangover from the Soviet-era.

Many locals feel closer to Moscow than Kiev and want the Russian base at Sevastopol to remain. The pro-Western "orange" politicians running the country have told Moscow they will not renew its lease on the base when it expires in 2017. Anti-Nato and anti-US feelings came to a head at the end of May, when a ship carrying US Marine reservists docked in the Crimean port of Feodosia ahead of Operation Sea Breeze.

The Marines were supposed to help refurbish a Ukrainian naval base for the exercise but their arrival has instead triggered a firestorm of protest that shows no sign of abating. The Marines have been stoned, subject to bomb hoaxes, been trapped in their accommodation, ridiculed in the Russian press, and construction supplies have been blocked at the port. Opposition has been led by die-hard Communists, Russian nationalists and by the neo-Communists, headed by the MP Natalya Vitrenko.

Russian MPs have flown in to offer their support, a development that has prompted Mr Yushchenko to rush through legislation allowing him to deport foreigners taking part in the protests. Pro-Russian forces accused Mr Yushchenko and Nato of planning to build a Nato base in Crimea and of shipping in toxic waste. Both allegations have been denied and the government has suggested Russian special forces have had a hand in whipping up the protests.

The Our Ukraine party went even further yesterday, accusing Moscow of directly fomenting the crisis. "The deliberate incitement of Crimean residents over the multinational military exercises by certain political forces directly supported by Moscow endangers not only the international image of this country, but also the national security and interests of Ukraine," it said in a statement.

It argued that military exercises of the same kind have been held regularly since 1997 and that Russia holds similar exercises too.

Locals have also been outraged by the scenario for this year's exercise; it involves Nato forces restoring order in a breakaway peninsula caught between the clutches of a totalitarian government and a democratic one.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
News
i100
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of the late singer Whitney Houston, poses at the premiere of
people
News
people
News
The frequency with which we lie and our ability to get away with it both increase to young adulthood then decline with age, possibly because of changes that occur in the brain
scienceRoger Dobson knows the true story, from Pinocchio to Pollard
Voices
The male menopause: those affected can suffer hot flushes, night sweats, joint pain, low libido, depression and an increase in body fat, among other symptoms
voicesSo the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Life and Style
health
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen