Ukraine crisis: Western powers join together to increase pressure on Russia

The EU and the UN are both threatening economic sanctions in an attempt to avoid a military intervention into the crisis

Russia has rejected reports that it threatened Ukraine with military assault if it did not surrender the Crimea by 3am on Tuesday as “total nonsense”, amid calls and increasing pressure on Russia from Western powers to withdraw troops from the strategic region.

Despite Russia’s denial that it issued an ultimatum, in the the worst diplomatic crisis since the Cold War the US State Department said a Russian threat to Ukraine's navy would be a “dangerous escalation” of an extremely tense situation.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's acting president said that Russia's military presence was growing in the Crimea region on Monday, and urged Moscow to halt what he called aggression and piracy.

Oleksander Turchinov told a news briefing on Monday that the situation was “difficult” in some regions in the pro-Russian south and east of the country, but maintained that the Ukrainian authorities had the situation under control. 

He also said Russia's Black Sea Fleet had trapped Ukrainian navy vessels in the bays of Sevastopol, the Crimean port where the Russian fleet has a base.

“I appeal to Russia's leadership - stop the provocative actions, aggression and piracy. This is a crime and you will answer for it.”

His please came after the takeover of the Kerch ferry terminal on the eastern tip of Crimea by Russian troops, following reports that Russian fighter jets had “violated” Ukrainian airspace.

In an attempt to discuss how to stall Russia’s posturing, the UN Security Council has scheduled an open meeting for 3:30pm (8:30pm).

Armed man in military uniform, believed to be Russian, stands outside the territory of the Ukrainian naval headquarters Armed man in military uniform, believed to be Russian, stands outside the territory of the Ukrainian naval headquarters (EPA)
It will be the third meeting of the Council since Friday, when Russian planes and troops first entered the Crimea.

Furthering the show of Western solidarity, the European Union also called its foreign ministers to discuss the situation on Monday and urged Russia to hold consultations with the interim government in Kiev in a bid to avoid military action, before an emergency summit of EU leaders scheduled on Thursday.

Instead, the EU said it will freeze visa liberalisation and economic co-operation talks if Moscow does not withdraw troops.

Mirroring the concerns expressed by G7 members on Sunday, the EU also called for the cancellation of the G8 summit in Russia’s Sochi if tensions do not ease.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said it would give Russia the opportunity show clear signs of goodwill, including a willingness to open talks and a withdrawal of Russian troops to their barracks in the Crimea.

If not, Fabius said the EU would start implementing punitive measures.

The White House has also announced it is likely to be “moving down the path” of imposing sanctions against Russia if actions in Ukraine continue, a state department official said on Monday evening.

In a show of solidarity with the EU, US Senator Chris Murphy, the chairman of the Senate's Europe subcommittee, said on Monday: “What is most important now is that the United States act in concert with our allies in Europe.”

An Orthodox priest holds a crucifix next to one of many armed men in military fatigues blocking access to a Ukrainian border guards base An Orthodox priest holds a crucifix next to one of many armed men in military fatigues blocking access to a Ukrainian border guards base (Getty Images)
Secretary of State John Kerry is leaving for Ukraine late Monday and then will travel to France and Italy. He had planned to see his Russian counterpart in Paris, but Psaki said that meeting was no longer certain.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who chaired a meeting of the National Security Council in London, said that the world needed to send a ”clear message“ to Moscow.

”What we want to see is a de-escalation rather than a continuation down the path that the Russian government has taken, violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another country”, he said.

“So we shall have to bring to bear diplomatic, political, economic and other pressures in order to make this point.

”That is the very clear message the whole world needs to send to the Russian government.“

While Russia denied the 3am ultimatum, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov justified the military incursion on Monday morning, claiming it was necessary in order to protect his country's citizens living there.

”This is a question of defending our citizens and compatriots, ensuring human rights, especially the right to life,“ he said.

Read more: Why is Crimea so important to Russia?
Jitters hit markets around the world, especially in Russia
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Voices
Vivienne Westwood and her son Joe Corré deliver an anti-fracking letter to No 10 last week
voicesThe great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
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

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick