“The biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century.”
Speaking to BBC Radio, British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that the crisis in Ukraine, where Russian troops have seized control of the Crimean Peninsula, is potentially disastrous.
“The world cannot just allow this to happen,” he said.
Meanwhile, at a press conference with Ukraine’s new Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk, Hague warned Russia of “consequences and costs” over its intervention, which Yatseniuk described as “declaration of war to my country,” Sky News reports.
During his interview with the BBC, Hague spoke of “significant diplomatic and economic costs” for Russia. This echoed news of the suspended participation of the other seven countries for the next G8 summit, due to take place in Sochi in June; as well as more trouble for Russia’s currency, the rouble. The Russian central bank was forced to announce an emergency interest rate hike, raising its key lending rate to 7% after the rouble hit all-time lows against the euro and the dollar, Reuters reports.
Follow the stock markets’ latest updates on The Guardian’s finance blog.
The Ukrainian crisis worsened over the weekend after the Russian Parliament approved President Vladimir Putin’s request to send in troops, putting the Ukrainian army on full alert, the BBC reports. According to U.S. officials, Russia now has some 6,000 airborne and ground troops in Crimea, leading them to concede that Moscow was in “complete operational control” of the much-coveted peninsula, The Guardian reports.
Speaking to the UN Council on Human Rights in Geneva, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the decision was not an aggression but a matter of defending human rights and Russian citizens, who constitute a majority of Crimea‘s population, RT reports.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told NBC during Meet The Press, “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests,” a criticism Salon characterizes as “ironic” in light of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Kerry is expected to fly to Kiev on Tuesday.
The BBC’s North America editor Mark Mardell said the crisis would also be a test of President Obama’s leadership, “one that will demonstrate how much clout the U.S. has in the world.”
Photo: Alexei Pavlishak/ITAR-TASS/ZUMA