Ukraine crisis: Kerry warns Putin 'This is not Rocky IV' as Russian fighter jets are put on combat alert

Tensions in the Crimea peninsula are increasing as armed men seized control of local government buildings this morning

Fighter jets along Russia's western borders have reportedly been placed on combat alert amid continuing unrest in the Crimea region of Ukraine.

The exercise came a day after US Secretary of State John Kerry warned Russian President Vladimir Putin to remember that the escalating crisis "is not Rocky IV".

Meanwhile, Ukrainian fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych - who is seeking refuge in a luxury health resort outside Moscow, Russian news agency RBC has claimed - has allegedly asked for Russia's protection from "extremists".

He also said he still considers himself to be the legitimate leader, according to a statement published by three Russian news agencies. An unnamed Russian official said his request was "satisfied in the territory of Russia."

A spokesperson for Mr Putin said they were not aware of Mr Yanukovych's reported arrival in Moscow.

Ukraine’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov issued a warning to Russia that any movement of its troops from their naval base in the southern Crimea region “will be considered military aggression."

Mr Turchynov also declared the takeover of government buildings in Crimea as a "crime against the government of Ukraine. I have given orders to the military to use all methods necessary to protect the citizens, punish the criminals, and to free the buildings," he said.

The Russian Interfax news agency quoted the Defence Ministry as saying:"Constant air patrols are being carried out by fighter jets in the border regions. From the moment they received the signal to be on high alert, the air force in the western military region left for the ... air bases."

The apparent move comes as “criminals wearing military fatigues” seized the regional government and parliament headquarters on Ukraine's Crimea peninsula this morning.

Mr Turchynov, who is also the head of Ukraine's armed forces, appealed for Moscow to adhere to the rules of an agreement which allows Russia's Black Sea fleet to be based in Sevastopol until 2042.

"I am appealing to the military leadership of the Russian Black Sea fleet ... Any military movements, the more so if they are with weapons, beyond the boundaries of this territory (the base) will be seen by us as military aggression," he declared.

Kerry made the comments in an apparent bid to distance the US from a Cold War-style confrontation with Russia. He said Russia must be “very careful” in any decisions it makes surrounding Ukraine, and that a military intervention in Ukraine would be a “ huge, grave mistake”.

“This is not Rocky IV,” he said, referring to the 1990 film depicting a battle between the East and West, in which Rocky Balboa fights Soviet Union boxer Ivan Drago.

“Believe me. We don’t see it that way", he told US TV Network NBC News.

“I think Russia needs to be very careful in the judgments that it makes going forward here,” he added. “We are not looking for confrontation. But we are making it clear that every country should respect the territorial integrity here, the sovereignty of Ukraine.

“Russia has said it would do that and we think it’s important that Russia keeps its word.”

Mr Kerry’s comments came after Mr Putin ordered the urgent drill test combat readiness of its military forces amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.

The exercise, involving 150,000 of precisely those forces which are likely to be used for any intervention, and their reserves, came amid growing claims that the country faces the threat of breaking up, as protests and violent sectarian clashes continue.

Russia said earlier this morning it would "uncompromisingly" defend the rights of its compatriots in Ukraine, while expressing concerns over "large-scale human rights violations", attacks and vandalism in the former Soviet republic.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli posed for this selfie during AC Milan's 5-1 defeat to Manchester City
sport
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Mechanical Design Engineer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: MECHANICAL D...

SQL DBA (2005/2008/2012, projects, storage requirements)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Copywriter - Corporate clients - Wimbledon

£21000 - £23000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Copywriter - London As a Copywrite...

Horticulture Lecturer / Tutor / Assessor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried