1. Situation in Crimea
The situation in Crimea continues to be unstable. Armed Russian units continue to surround Ukrainian military and security bases, barracks and headquarters. According to the Ministry of Defense Crimean media center, the former commander of Ukrainian Navy, D. Berezovsky, yesterday betrayed his oath and his country and flipped to the Russian side, today tried to convince the leadership of the navy to join the side of Russia, promising a pay raise to the level of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. He was pushed out of the meeting to which he broke in with armed guards.
To date, Berezovsky is the only officer known to change sides – he is charged with treason. All Ukrainian units have continued to stay loyal to their oath and their country. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has stated that they have evidence that a provocation is being planned for the night of 3-4 March, in which 3 or 4 Russian troops will be killed, with the goal of “legalizing the advance of Russian troops into Ukraine.” Citizens throughout the country continue to volunteer for the armed forces – in Chernihivtsi oblast, for example – more than 4,000, in Kyiv oblast almost 3,000 – have volunteered since this crisis began. There are reports from several sources, unconfirmed as of 19.00 Ukraine time, that Russian forces have issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian forces that they must surrender by 5:00 am on 3 March or face assault by Russian units across Crimea.
2. Russia’s stock markets plunge
Moscow stock markets plunged by more than 10% on 3 March, while the ruble fell to record lows against the US dollar and Euro. Russia’s central bank hiked interest rates in an attempt to limit the damage and the run on the ruble. Any prolonged incursion into Ukraine will have disastrous economic consequences for Russia.
3. G7 issues statement on Russian aggression in Ukraine
The G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US – issued a statement yesterday condemning Russia’s “clear violation” of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The leaders of the G7 also stated that they are suspending their participation in the preparation of the G8 summit planned for June in Sochi, “until the environment comes back to where the G8 is able to have meaningful discussion.” The countries of the G7 have at their disposal a variety of economic measures that can be used to pressure the Russian Federation in the event that the Russian Federation refuses to halt their aggression against Ukraine.
4. CEC: Referendum in Crimea impossible
The Central Election Commission of Ukraine stated that holding a local referendum in Crimea is impossible, because there is no legislation in place that governs local referenda. The Crimean parliament voted in a closed session to hold a referendum on 25 May 2014 with regard to the status of Crimea within Ukraine. It later voted to hold the referendum on 30 March 2014. Any referendum held while under Russian occupation is illegitimate.
5. Peoples’ Republic of China issues statement on Ukraine
The Foreign Ministry of the Peoples’ Republic of China issued a statement that said that the PRC “respect[s] the independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.” The PRC has not commented on whether it views Russian interference as aggression, stating that “there are reasons for why the situation in Ukraine is what it is today.”
6. Russian sociologist: 70% against war
The head of the Russian polling firm “Levada-center,” Lev Hudkov, has stated that while a majority of Russian citizens would support the joining of Crimea to Russia through a referendum, more than 70% oppose the use of military force in Ukraine. This fact is instructive given that the Russian regime, through its control of the media has carried out a sustained, intense campaign of disinformation within Russia, based entirely on falsehoods and manipulation of facts. An armed invasion of Ukraine will cost Russian president Putin economically and politically.
Taras Zalusky, Executive Director
Ukrainian Canadian Congress3-March-briefing-note-Ukraine