Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'

Diplomatic crisis between East and West intensifies as Putin defies calls to pull out of disputed region

Russia has rejected reports that it threatened Ukraine with military assault if it does not surrender the Crimea by 3am on Tuesday as "total nonsense".

Amid the confusion of the worst diplomatic crisis since the Cold War, the Russian Defence Ministry told RT that the country has "become accustomed to the daily accusations by the Ukrainian media of carrying out some sort of military actions against our Ukrainian colleagues".

Relations between East and West have plummeted as the Russian Government continued to ignore calls from Western leaders to leave the Ukrainian area.

This morning, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, justified the military incursion 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.

It followed claims from the Ukrainian Defence Ministry that Russian fighter jets had "violated" the country's airspace over the Black Sea overnight and that Russian forces were now in control of the port city of Sevastopol, where the Black Sea fleet is based.

The takeover of the ferry terminal on the eastern tip of Crimea by Russian troops has exacerbated fears that Moscow is planning to bring even more troops into the strategic Black Sea region. There was no immediate comment from the Russian Defence Ministry.

In a series of interviews last night the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the Obama administration was looking at what sanctions to impose if Russia didn't "step back" from its military incursion. "There could even be, ultimately, asset freezes, visa bans" and disruption of trade, Kerry said on NBC's Meet the Press programme.

During a visit to Kiev today, the Foreign Secretary William Hague described the situation as "certainly the biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century", adding that there was "no justification" for the actions in Crimea, where Russia had "in effect taken control".

Echoing US President Obama's speech on Friday, the Foreign Secretary said Moscow should be in no doubt that it faced "significant costs" for its move into the Ukrainian region.

However, at a news conference with Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, he said that any military response was not on the tale at the moment: "The UK is not discussing military options. Our concentration is on diplomatic and economic pressure."

President Vladimir Putin has defended Russia's actions, blaming "ultra-nationalist forces" for seizing power in Kiev. A Kremlin statement posted online said Putin told the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Sunday that measures taken by Russia so far were "fully adequate" and in response to  the unrelenting threat of violence" to "Russian citizens and the whole Russian-speaking population".

Earlier today, as Russia sought to draw support from the international community, Mr Lavrov said that he had discussed Ukraine with his Chinese counterpart and that the two veto-wielding UN Security Council members had "broadly coinciding points of view" and would stay in close contact on the issue.

Yesterday, Ukraine's country's acting Prime Minister said that his country was "on the brink of disaster" after hundreds of unidentified gunmen engaged in a stand-off with troops at a base in the Crimean peninsula.

Emerging from a closed session of parliament in Kiev, Mr Yatsenyuk described President Putin's decision to send in troops as a "declaration of war", and said "there was no reason for the Russian Federation to invade Ukraine.

The Nato Secretary-General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, called on Russia to "stop its military activities and its threats" after convening an emergency meeting. "What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations Charter," he said. "It threatens peace and security in Europe."

Yesterday, the G7 group of major industrialised nations condemned Russia's intrusion into Ukraine . It has also cancelled preparations for the G8 summit that was to include Russia, scheduled for Sochi in June, the White House confirmed.

The group said in a statement: "We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States and the President of the European Council and President of the European Commission, join together today to condemn the Russian Federation's clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

"We have decided for the time being to suspend our participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G8 Summit in Sochi in June," it added.

The G7 also urged Russia to hold talks with Ukraine directly to address any human rights or security concerns it has.

The group expressed its support for Ukraine's bid to secure financial help from the International Monetary Fund and to make reforms to its economy.

Read more: Latest: Ukraine 'on the brink of disaster' as Russian troop movements prompt stand-off
Ukraine crisis: Nato ‘betrayal’ and Brussels rhetoric pushing Vladimir Putin to act
Ukraine crisis: UK ministers to boycott Paralympics in response to Russia’s ‘declaration of war’

The crisis has prompted a sell-off in Russian assets, with the rouble falling to an all-time low against the dollar at the opening of exchange trading on Monday.

Stocks also suffered globally, as traders became unnerved by the warnings from Washington and other governments that Moscow, an oil exporter, might face sanctions.

Tensions have been rising since President Yanukovych was ousted last week, following months of pro-EU protests.

Mr Yanukovych fled to Russia last Saturday after more than 80 people were killed in the protests, but insists that he is still President.

Additional reporting by Reuters and AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Life and Style
life
News
Melissa and Joan Rivers together at an NBC event in May 2014
peopleDaughter Melissa thanks fans for 'outpouring of support'
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
One in six drivers cannot identify a single one of the main components found under the bonnet of an average car
motoringOne in six drivers can't carry out basic under-bonnet checks
News
i100
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
News
peopleWrestling veteran drifting in and out of consciousness
Arts and Entertainment
Shady character: Jon Hamm as sports agent JB Bernstein in Million Dollar Arm
filmReview: Jon Hamm finally finds the right role on the big screen in Million Dollar Arm
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

Research and Insight Analyst (Mathematics Graduate)

£25000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...

IT Support Manager - Staffordshire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Manager - Near...

Nursery assistants required for day to day roles in Cambridge

£10000 - £15000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Nursery assistants re...

Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £40 - £50K first year: SThree: SThree Group an...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone