Thursday, February 27, 2014

Russia, US jostling over Ukraine

Leaders in Russia are ramping up pressure on Ukraine as the former Soviet republic seeks closer ties with Europe following the ouster of its pro-Russian president.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the defense ministry on Wednesday to conduct snap military drills in central and western Russia, near the border with Ukraine.

The ministry says the drills involve around 150,000 personnel and tanks, aircraft and naval vessels, and will continue until Monday.

US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia to show restraint, saying the issue of Ukraine should not be seen in Cold War terms.

Kerry stressed that Washington does not view it through an East-West or Russia-US lens.

NATO issued a statement expressing support for Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity as well as the principle of inviolability of frontiers.

In Ukraine, an interim government is expected to take shape as early as Thursday after President Viktor Yanukovych was forced out of power by the opposition's uprising.