The United States has seen indications of Russian troop movements from and into Ukraine’s Crimea region on Friday but their numbers are unclear, as are the intentions of those movements, US officials told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
One US official said some of the movements could be designed to bolster protection of Russian forces there.
US sees Russian troop movements into Crimea, officials say
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Ukraine’s defense ministry said it had information that unknown "radical forces" were planning to try to disarm its military units in Crimea early Saturday morning and warned against such action.
"In the case of such unknown actions, the Ukrainian armed forces will act in accordance with the laws of Ukraine and the regulations of the Ukrainian armed forces," the ministry said in a statement on its Website.
Ukraine’s defense ministry warns of action by ‘radical’ forces in Crimea
Any Russian military movements in Crimea are in keeping with Moscow’s existing arrangement with Ukraine on the deployment of military assets in the former Soviet republic, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Friday.
"We are acting within the framework of that agreement," he told reporters after a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council. He did not give any details or comment on specifics of any Russian military deployments on Ukrainian territory.
Russia says Crimea deployments based on agreements with Ukraine
President Barack Obama on Friday expressed concern about reported Russian military movement inside crisis-torn Ukraine and warned of consequences.
"We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine," he told reporters at the White House.
"Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing," he said in a brief appearance. "The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine."
Obama warns Russia against any military intervention in Ukraine
The United States on Friday said it was gravely concerned by reports that Russia has deployed military assets in Ukraine’s autonomous region of Crimea and called on Moscow to pull back.
"We are gravely disturbed by reports of Russian military deployments into the Crimea," US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told reporters after a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine.
She also called for an independent international mediation mission to be quickly dispatched to Ukraine.
US ‘gravely disturbed’ by reports of Russian military deployments in Ukraine