Russian Forces Seize Village in Ukraine

Tensions mount ahead of tomorrow's referendum in Crimea
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2014 1:04 PM CDT
Russian Forces Seize Village in Ukraine
People shout slogans during a pro-Russian rally at a central square in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, Saturday.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Russia hasn't seemed much interested in lowering tensions ahead of tomorrow's secession vote in Crimea, and today's actions reinforce the point. The Washington Post reports that Russian forces have seized the small village of Strilkove in Ukraine territory near Crimea, along with a gas-distribution station either in or near the village. So does this qualify as an invasion of Ukraine, which Russia had promised wouldn't happen? Ukraine certainly thinks so, reports AP, with its foreign ministry declaring that it "reserves the right to use all necessary measures to stop the military invasion by Russia."

A Russian official said the military took action to save the gas facility from "terrorist attacks," reports the BBC. The Post, however, sees it as Moscow "testing the will of Kiev amid fears of further Russian incursions in eastern and southern Ukraine." At the UN, meanwhile, Russia as expected vetoed a Security Council resolution declaring tomorrow's referendum to be invalid, reports Reuters. Western diplomats at least got China, which usually votes with Russia, to abstain. In Moscow, tens of thousands of anti-Putin protesters, including the two newly released Pussy Riot members, marched to protest the Crimea referendum, reports the New York Times. (More Russia stories.)

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