Russian Soldiers Ordered To Leave Canada By End Of Day

Nine Russian soldiers participating in military exercises have been ordered to leave Canada by the end of today, as Canada continues to denounce the Russian occupation of the Crimean peninsula. 

According to a government source, the soldiers were given notice on Thursday, just days after Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced he was suspending all planned bilateral activities between the Canadian Armed Forces and the military of the Russian Federation.

There are six soldiers in Saint Jean, Que., two at CFB Gagetown in New Brunswick, and one soldier in Gatineau, Que.

The government will also be suspending Canada's participation in the Canada-Russia Intergovernmental Economic Commission, established to promote economic relations between Canada and Russia.

Canada has sent two military observers, part of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, to monitor the Russian military situation in Ukraine.

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  • UKRAINE-RUSSIA-POLITICS-UNREST-CRIMEA

    A Ukrainian police officer (L) and a pro-Russian volunteer (R) detain a topless activist of the Ukrainian women movement Femen, protesting against the war in front of Cremea's parliament during a pro-Russian rally in Simferopol on March 6, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UKRAINE-RUSSIA-POLITICS-UNREST-CRIMEA

    A Ukrainian police officer (L) and pro-Russian volunteers detain a topless activist of the Ukrainian women movement Femen, protesting against the war in front of Cremea's parliament during a pro-Russian rally in Simferopol on March 6, 2014 . AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UKRAINE-RUSSIA-POLITICS-UNREST-CRIMEA

    A topless activist of the Ukrainian women movement Femen tries to take the microphone away while protesting against the war in front of Cremea's parliament during a pro-Russian rally in Simferopol on March 6, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UKRAINE-RUSSIA-POLITICS-UNREST-CRIMEA

    A Ukrainian police officer (L) and pro-Russian volunteers detain a topless activist of the Ukrainian women movement Femen, protesting against the war in front of Cremea's parliament during a pro-Russian rally in Simferopol on March 6, 2014 . AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UKRAINE-RUSSIA-POLITICS-UNREST-CRIMEA

    A Ukrainian police officer (C-top) and pro-Russian volunteers detain a topless activist of the Ukrainian women movement Femen, protesting against the war in front of Cremea's parliament during a pro-Russian rally in Simferopol on March 6, 2014 . AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UKRAINE-RUSSIA-POLITICS-UNREST-CRIMEA

    A Ukrainian police officer (L) and pro-Russian volunteers detain a topless activist of the Ukrainian women movement Femen, protesting against the war in front of Cremea's parliament during a pro-Russian rally in Simferopol on March 6, 2014 . AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UKRAINE-RUSSIA-POLITICS-UNREST-CRIMEA

    Ukrainian police officers detain a topless activist of the Ukrainian women movement Femen, protesting against the war in front of Cremea's parliament during a pro-Russian rally in Simferopol on March 6, 2014 . AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UKRAINE-RUSSIA-POLITICS-UNREST-CRIMEA

    A topless activist of the Ukrainian women movement Femen tries to take the microphone away while protesting against the war in front of Cremea's parliament during a pro-Russian rally in Simferopol on March 6, 2014. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

  • UKRAINE-RUSSIA-POLITICS-UNREST-CRIMEA

    A man strangles a topless activist of the Ukrainian women movement Femen, protesting against the war in front of Cremea's parliament during a pro-Russian rally in Simferopol on March 6, 2014 . AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

According to CNN's Anna Coren, "The Crimean self-appointed government that came in a week ago, they are the ones who are really cracking down, who are trying to get a grip of the media."

CNN reports its team was ordered to stop broadcasting or they'd be kicked out of their hotel. It also reports that two Ukrainian TV stations were forced by masked men to shut down in Crimea. Video footage also allegedly shows a Bulgarian journalist taking photos and then being tackled to ground.

WATCH:

Read more here.

The Associated Press reports that employees of its Global Media Services were stripped of their equipment and accused of spying by armed men.

Two other men then came and took photos of AP's equipment, including protective jackets, and accused the crew of being spies.

Later, armed men showed up and ordered the crew to put their hands against the wall while they cut cables and took the equipment away. Some of the equipment has been recovered, but much is still missing. The contractors and employees were kept at the building for about two hours before being released unharmed.

Read the full AP report here.

-- Andrew Hart

The Pentagon estimated on Friday that as many as 20,000 Russian troops may be in Crimea.

Reuters reports:

Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby, asked about the number of Russian forces in Crimea, cited estimates of up to around 20,000 of them. Pressed on the 20,000 figure, Kirby said: "That's a good estimate right now."

"But it's just an estimate. And as I said, we don't have perfect visibility on the numbers," Kirby said at a Pentagon news conference.

Ukraine's border guards have put the figure far higher.

Read the full story here.

The Associated Press has more details on the siege of a military base in Crimea:

A Ukrainian news agency says a military base in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol is under siege by Russians. No shots have been fired.

The report, citing a duty officer and Ukraine's defense ministry, said a Russian military truck broke down the gates and entered the base, where about 100 Ukrainian troops are stationed.

Interfax, quoting the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, said there were about 20 "attackers," who threw stun grenades.

The Ukrainians barricaded themselves inside one of their barracks, and their commander began negotiations, Interfax said.

Officials indicated on Friday that a change to U.S. policy on exporting natural gas is unlikely amid speculation the U.S. might pursue such an option in response to the crisis in Ukraine.

Reuters notes:

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One that policy changes would not have an immediate effect and noted that natural gas stocks in Europe were above normal levels because of a mild winter.

"There is no indication currently that there's much risk of a natural gas shortage in the region," he said.

Europe and Ukraine are key export markets for Russian natural gas.

Earnest noted that there were six licenses approved by the Department of Energy related to U.S. natural gas exports. The projects for delivering gas would not be completed until the end of next year, he said.

"So proposals to try to respond to the situation in Ukraine that are related to our policy on exporting natural gas would not have an immediate effect," he said.

Earnest noted that Russia prides itself on being a reliable supplier of natural gas to other countries. That reputation would be jeopardized if it turned off the taps during the Ukraine crisis.

"Russia currently yields about $50 billion a year in revenue from exporting natural gas, so ending that kind of relationship with Europe would have significant financial consequences for Russia as well," he said.

-- Eline Gordts

Russian soldiers have stormed a Ukrainian military base, according to a report in the Ukrainian Pravda, citing Interfax-Ukraine.

Around 100 Ukrainian soldiers were in the base. Roughly 20 people stormed the base, including cossacks and "local radicals" with stun grenades. According to the report, the commander and military officer got out to hold negotiations with those who stormed the base.

-- Luke Johnson

Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the Paralympic Games Friday in Sochi, which of course were scheduled long before Russian forces entered Crimea.

"I hope that the Paralympic Games will reduce the intensity of passions around Ukraine," he told the International Paralympic Committee President Philip Craven, according to ITAR-TASS. "It's important, that all this did not concern the athletes -- so they can focus on the competitions."

Sochi is a mere 300 miles or so from Crimea. Putin has thus far remained silent on a proposed referendum by Crimea to join Russia.

-- Luke Johnson

In a call with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov warned the United States against taking "hasty and reckless steps" that could harm Russian-American relations, Reuters reports.

Lavrov added that U.S. sanctions against Moscow would "hit the country like a boomerang."

-- Eline Gordts

From HuffPost's Paul Blumenthal:

As the United States readies $1 billion in loan guarantees to the new government in Ukraine, along with even more aid for reforming elections and cleaning up corruption, one thing is clear: The public is unlikely to know where that money is going for some time, if ever.

Since 1992, the U.S. has sent $3 billion to $5 billion in aid to Ukraine, with only cursory public disclosure. The U.S. State Department operates an online database, ForeignAssistance.gov, but names of foreign recipients are often left out, and entire sections are blank. Furthermore, the disclosure often comes long after the money has been distributed.

"It is incredibly hard to find this kind of information," Nicole Valentinuzzi, communications manager for Publish What You Fund, an international organization promoting transparency for foreign aid.

Read the full story here.

-- Eline Gordts

The international community is increasingly looking to German Chancellor Angela Merkel to help resolve the dispute over Crimea in Ukraine, though doubts linger about her effectiveness.

From Der Spiegel:

"[B]ecause of Germany's traditional role as a go-between with Russia, many are now looking to Merkel as a potentially vital intermediary with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It is a tremendous challenge. And it isn't just the Europeans who will be watching Berlin closely. The US too is hoping Germany will live up to its new desire to wield influence. According to Fiona Hill of the Brookings Institution, Washington's currently troubled relationship with Russia means that it cannot do much -- and that Germany must therefore play a more important role.

Read the full story here.

-- Stephen Calabria

Human rights organization Amnesty International warns in a statement that human rights monitors, independent observers, journalists and pro-Ukrainian protestors in Crimea have reported a growing number of threats and intimidation in the past days. The organization calls on the de facto authorities of the Crimea region, as well as Russian troops in the area, to respect the freedom of movement, assembly and expression of everyone in Ukraine.

Read the full statement here.

Officials in the new Ukrainian leadership are looking for help among a group with which they have not always had the friendliest relations: the oligarchs.

Per the AP:

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) -- In a surprising move after Russia flexed its military might in the Crimean Peninsula, Ukraine's new leadership has reached out to oligarchs for help - appointing them as governors in eastern regions where loyalties to Moscow are strong.

With their wealth, influence, and self-interest in preventing further conflict, the oligarchs could be the key to calming tensions and maintaining Ukraine's control in areas where pro-Russian activists have stoked separatist tensions.

Read more here.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said in a message on Twitter that its observers have once again been blocked from entering Ukraine's Crimea region. The observers were sent to Crimea at Ukraine's request, and are tasked to monitor tensions on the peninsula.

AFP reports that the team of 47 observers was stopped by armed men at a checkpoint flying the Russian flag.

crimea

A Ukrainian naval officer stands with the Russian warship "Moskva" ("Moscow"), a Slava-class [Soviet ship designation] guided missile cruiser, in the background off the Black Sea shore outside the town of Myrnyi, Western Crimea, Ukraine, Thursday, March 6, 2014.(AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

A U.S. Navy destroyer is on its way to the Black Sea for exercises near the Crimea region.

More details from the Associated Press:

The Navy destroyer USS Truxtun is participating in exercises with Romania and Bulgaria and is expected to be in the Black Sea for several days amid a stand-off over Russia's military incursion into Ukraine.

The exercises come as the U.S. and other Western nations are preparing sanctions against Russia for its recent move to send military troops into Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.

Russian lawmakers reassured the chairman of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, that Moscow would welcome his region into the Russian Federation if voters decide to join Russia in a March 16 referendum.

The Associated Press reports:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia has no intention of annexing Crimea, but Valentina Matvienko, the speaker of Russia's upper house of parliament, made clear that the country would welcome Crimea if it votes in the referendum to join its giant neighbor. About 60 percent of Crimea's population identifies itself as Russian.

"If the decision is made, then (Crimea) will become an absolutely equal subject of the Russian Federation," Matvienko said during a visit from the chairman of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov. She spoke of mistreatment of Russian-speaking residents in Ukraine's east and south, which has been Russia's primary argument for possible intervention in Ukraine.

Read the full story here.

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Via: huffingtonpost.ca


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The mission of the "FEMEN" movement is to create the most favourable conditions for the young women to join up into a social group with the general idea of the mutual support and social responsibility, helping to reveal the talents of each member of the movement.

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