Mar 3 - Russian cossacks near the Ukrainian border express their solidarity with ethnic Russians in Crimea, as the U.S. warns Moscow of sanctions if the crisis in Ukraine escalates. Mana Rabiee reports.
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Russian cossacks rally near the Ukranian border.
A show of solidarity with ethnic Russians in neighboring Crimea.
We're ready to help, they say, if Crimea wants to rejoin Russia, which gifted the area to Ukraine in the 1950's.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) COSSACK GENNADY CHERNENKO, SAYING:
"Crimea and eastern Ukraine were all before a part of our cossack territory. If they want to join us we will support and help them."
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) COSSACK VALENTIN GLAZATOV, SAYING:
"Our brotherly people are there, our brothers, Russians, Russian-speaking population, something like three million people."
Russian President Vladimir Putin watched war games on Monday designed to test the combat-readiness of his troops.
His forces have seized control of the Crimean peninsula, where Moscow maintains its Black Sea Fleet, and now threaten to invade Ukraine.
Russia says it needs to protect Russian speakers in Crimea from what it says is a new nationalist government in Ukraine's capital, Kiev.
But in Washington, U.S. President Barack Obama says Russia is on "the wrong side of history".
He condemned Russia's actions and said the U.S. could consider economic and diplomatic sanctions that would isolate Moscow.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING:
"Over time this will be a costly proposition for Russia. And now is the time for them to consider whether they can serve their interests in a way that resorts to diplomacy as opposed to force."
There were conflicting reports on Monday that Russia was threatening to invade Crimea on Tuesday if forces there don't surrender.
Ukranian border guards say Russian forces have seized control of a ferry crossing between Russia and Crimea.
And that Russians are using the ferry to bring in truckloads of soldiers.
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