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Continued: Russian aircraft, troop moves in Crimea prompt blunt warning from Obama: 'There will be costs'

  • Article by: DALTON BENNETT , Associated Press
  • Last update: February 28, 2014 - 9:53 PM

In Kiev, the prosecutor-general's office said it would seek Yanukovych's extradition to Ukraine, where he is wanted on suspicion of mass murder in violent clashes last week between protesters and police that left more than 80 people dead.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's telecom provider, Ukrtelecom JSC, said unknown people seized several communications centers in the Crimea late Friday, knocking out the company's ability to connect the peninsula with the rest of the country. The statement on the company's website said there were almost no landline, Internet or mobile services operating in the Crimea.

Ukraine's population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West, with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union while eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support.

Crimea, a southeastern peninsula of Ukraine that has semi-autonomous status, was seized by Russian forces in the 18th century under Catherine the Great. It became part of Ukraine in 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred jurisdiction from Russia, a move that was a mere formality until the 1991 Soviet collapse meant Crimea landed in an independent Ukraine.

That complicated history hangs over Ukraine's crisis.

"Crimea in the flashpoint everybody needs to be watching," said Steven Pifer, a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine who is now an analyst at the Brookings Institution.

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  • Armed men patrol the street outside Simferopol‚Äôs airport in the Crimea region of Ukraine, Feb. 28, 2014. As the possibility of a showdown between Ukraine‚Äôs fledgling government and the Kremlin appeared to grow Friday, armed men whose uniforms bore no insignia took up positions at the Simferopol and Belbek airports as Interior Minister Arsen Avakov warned of a direct provocation, but there was no sign of any violence. (Sergey Ponomarev/The New York Times)

  • Russian armored personnel carriers and a truck are parked on the side...

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