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
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
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
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

Nursery Nurse

£40 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Nursery Nurse needed in salfordI a...

Nursery Nurse

£25 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse needed in th...

Supply Teaching jobs in Thetford

£21588 - £31566 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

KS1 teachers needed in Peterborough

£110 - £125 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are ur...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape