When is an invasion not an invasion? Armed men have blockaded airports in Crimea, airspace has been shut down, telephone hubs jammed, border guard posts surrounded, the main port Sevastopol blockaded, and columns of Russian armoured personnel carriers are moving through the region, supported by combat helicopters. Russia concedes that it has sent in its military to protect Black Sea Fleet positions, with President Vladimir Putin calling for a “rapid return to normality” and warning EU leaders against fomenting any further unrest. The White House upped the ante last night by warning that further Russian intervention would be a “grave mistake”. i’s Defence Correspondent, Kim Sengupta, is in Crimea. His report runs over the page.
On 5 Live last week, I was asked about comparisons between Ukraine and Yugoslavia. The theory goes that in Ukraine, as in Yugoslavia, there are rival religious groupings (Catholics and Orthodox), a pro-Russian east pitted against would-be Europeans in the west, and no shortage of outside meddlers seeking to shape the chaos to their advantage. I argued against the comparison: Ukraine does not have entrenched ethnic power, nor militias on all sides. But the situation has shifted disturbingly fast, with Kiev losing control and Crimea slipping towards the Kremlin. I doubt Europe has any appetite to respond with military might.
i has been shortlisted for Newspaper of the Year at the British Press Awards, with three of i’s journalists, who also work for our sister titles The Independent on Sunday and The Independent, shortlisted in other categories. Science Editor Steve Connor is shortlisted for Science and Health Journalist of the Year, Sarah Morrison for Young Journalist of the Year, and Tom Harper listed twice for his investigations into corporate hacking, for News Reporter of the Year and Scoop of the Year. i has also been shortlisted for National Newspaper of the Year at the separate Newspaper Awards. Both ceremonies are held on 1 April.