Mood remains dark in Crimea as Russian convoy enters base
Saturday, March 08, 2014 - 01:54
March 8 - Russian and Ukranian officials are trying to form a contact group to diffuse the crisis in Crimea, but tensions there remain high as a convoy of hundreds of Russian troops enter a base in the provincial capital. Mana Rabiee reports.
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The mood was dark on Saturday in Ukraine's Crimea.
A convoy of about 50 unmarked Russian trucks drove into a base near the provincial capital Simferopol.
Russian forces in unmarked uniforms have surrounded Ukrainian bases in the peninsula since seizing the area last week.
Crimea's pro-Russian separatist leadership has declared the area a part of Russia.
It's ordered Ukrainain soldiers loyal to the government newly formed last month to surrender.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia is ready for dialogue with Ukraine.
But, he complained that the government in the capital Kiev is led by radicals supported by the West.
(SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIA'S MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS SERGEI LAVROV, SAYING:
"This conflict is of an inner-Ukrainian nature, inspired from outside, and not from our side. The temporary government, as you called it, is not independent. Unfortunately, it depends on radical nationalists, who took power in an armed coup."
Ukraine's acting Foreign Minister said on Saturday his country will not give up Crimea to Russia.
He said the idea of a possible contact group was under consideration to try to bring all sides to the table.
The government in Kiev, he said, is willing to talk to separatist Crimeans.
(SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian), ANDRIY DESHCHYTSYA, ACTING MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, SAYING:
"We must talk to them. We must find out why they want to join Russia....Probably it was caused just because they have lower standards of living. Probably there is a need for developing national languages or cultural. We are ready to negotiate but not with weapons."
But for now, tensions on the ground remain high.
Crimea's parliament set a referendum for March 16 to confirm if the region secedes from Ukraine and joins Russia.
The crisis has become the biggest East-West face off since the Cold War.
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