US fighter jets, Troops to Poland & lithuania Over Ukraine Crisis
Jennifer Svan and John Vandiver report for Stars and Stripes that on March 10, 2014, Polish government officials said the U.S. military was sending 12 F-16 fighter jets and about 300 service members to their country in response to the situation in Ukraine.
It’s the second time in less than a week that the Pentagon has ordered combat planes and personnel to countries in Eastern Europe amid mounting tensions over Russia’s incursion into Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula. On March 6, the U.S. Air Force sent six F-15C Eagles and more than 60 U.S. airmen from RAF Lakenheath, England, to Lithuania to bolster NATO’s air policing mission over the Baltics.
The Baltic nations and Poland had requested the deployments, officials said.
On March 27, 2014, by a vote of 100 in favor to 11 against, with 58 abstentions, the 193-member UN Assembly declared that the March 16 referendum in Crimea that led to the peninsula’s annexation by Russia “has no validity” and that the parties should “pursue immediately a peaceful resolution of the situation.”
The UN calls on all States, international organizations and specialized agencies not to recognize any alteration of the status of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol on the basis of the 16 March referendum “and to refrain from any action or dealing that might be interpreted as recognizing any such altered status.”
Russia adds more troops along Ukraine border
Jim Garamone reports for the American Forces Press Service, March 27, 2014, that Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said during a news conference Russia is continuing to reinforce units along the eastern and southern Ukraine border.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week that the Russian troops were massing for regularly scheduled exercises. Kirby said “The minister said it was exercises, no intent to cross the border. They need to live up to that word.”
The AFP reports on March 27, 2014, that Andriy Parubiy, chairman of Ukraine’s national security council, said via a webcast from Kiev that nearly 100,000 Russian forces have massed on Ukraine’s border — a number far higher than US military estimates.
Parubiy said, “Almost 100,000 soldiers are stationed on the borders of Ukraine and in the direction … of Kharkiv, Donetsk. Russian troops are not in Crimea only, they are along all Ukrainian borders. They’re in the south, they’re in the east and in the north.”
CHINA WON’T TAKE SIDES
Harriet Torry reports for the Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2014, that Chinese President Xi Jinping said China had “no private interest in the Ukraine question,” dashing hopes in the West that Beijing could turn more critical of its Russian ally.