March 23, 2014
Kiev (AFP) – Ukraine’s Western-backed leaders voiced fears on Sunday of an imminent Russian invasion of the eastern industrial heartland following the fall of their last airbase in Crimea to defiant Kremlin troops.
Saturday’s takeover involving armoured personnel carriers and stun grenades provided the most spectacular show of force since the Kremlin sent troops into the heavily Russified peninsula three weeks ago before sealing its annexation Friday.
Alarm about a push outside Crimea by Moscow’s overwhelming forces — now conducting drills at Ukraine’s eastern gate — were fanned further Sunday by a call by its self-declared premier for Russians across the ex-Soviet country to rise up against Kiev’s rule.
The interim leaders in Kiev fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin — flushed with expansionist fervour — is developing a sense of impunity after being hit by only limited EU and US sanctions for taking the Black Sea cape.