Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: New Phase for Ukrainian Protest Movement -- Unarmed Soldiers March

It seemed like today we might wake up to a bloodbath in Crimea.

Russian military officials who had led an invasion of the Ukrainian region had given Ukrainian soldiers a deadline this morning to surrender or face attack.

Instead, the deadline came and went, and the only bullets fired were warning shots.

A group of 100 Ukrainian military pilots had marched unarmed, waving a Ukrainian flag and singing the national anthem, to a military airport in Sevastopol that Russian soldiers had seized in recent days. They wanted their jobs back.

The Ukrainians continued approaching Russian sentries despite warning shots. Tense negotiations ensued for several hours until the Ukrainians withdrew.

Putin Reportedly Wanted Ukrainians to Fire on Invading Soldiers

The non-violent approach of Ukrainian forces thus far is deliberate, says a Ukrainian military official, lieutenant-colonel Volodymyr Bondaruk, in this Kyiv Post item.

He said Ukraine has ordered its soldiers not to fire on the invading Russians. One reason: a conversation that reportedly took place between Russian president Vladimir Putin and his military commander in Crimea, which Bondaruk said was intercepted by a Ukrainian security agency.

(The veracity of the conversation hasn't been independently confirmed, so far as I know.)

In the conversation, Putin asked his commander why Ukrainians had yet to fire on the Russians moving into Crimea. "Why aren't they shooting?"

"They just aren't."

"But how do they behave? Do you provoke them?"

"Yes, we provoke them."

"Do you remain defiant?"

"Yes, we are defiant, but they aren't shooting."

"Why aren't they shooting?"

"I don't know why, but they don't."

Bondaruk at this point explained: "In other words, there is a provocation going on to make sure there is a first (shot), and that it's started on the Ukrainian side. As soon as the first one starts, the big unrest will start."

Putin reportedly went on: "So why aren't they shooting? What do they say?"

"They simply openly tell us to buzz off."

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