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Press info today -

Pro-Russian Opposition Says U.S. Ship Threat to Ukraine

Ukraine’s pro-Russian opposition parties on Tuesday railed against President Viktor Yushchenko’s government for allowing a U.S. Navy ship to enter a Ukrainian port, calling it a threat to the nation, The Associated Press reported.

The arrival of USS Advantage in the Crimean port of Feodosiya this weekend sparked protests and left the government scrambling to explain that it was coming as part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program and was only bringing equipment for exercises this summer in the Black Sea.

Yushchenko wants Ukraine, formerly part of the USSR, to join NATO, but the military alliance remains deeply unpopular in the country, particularly in the largely Russian-speaking east and south.

Natalya Vitrenko, leader of a political party influential on the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accused Yushchenko of ignoring legislation which requires parliamentary approval before any foreign military troops or ships enter Ukrainian territory. She also noted that parliament had earlier this year voted to bar foreign troops from participating in military exercises in Ukraine.

“On May 27, an act of high treason was committed by Ukraine’s top officials,” Vitrenko said.

The larger pro-Russian Party of the Regions called the ship’s arrival “an attempt to infringe on Ukraine’s sovereignty and national security” and urged punishment of those who had approved it. The opposition Social Democratic Party (United) also slammed the government.

Ukraine Navy spokesman Mykola Nedohipchenko said the ship came to participate in the Sea Breeze peacekeeping exercises, which Ukraine has been conducting annually since 1997. He said it had delivered construction facilities to help Ukrainians update their training-ground, bulldozers, lifting cranes, and medicines. The exercises are to take place in July and August for up to 45 days and will involve 17 countries, including the United States.

“The protest is just a political game aimed at causing unrest in Crimea,” Nedohipchenko said.

The Crimean peninsula has a large ethnic Russian population and its main port, Sevastopol — 160 kilometers (100 miles) from Feodosia where USS Advantage visited — is home to both the Russian and Ukrainian Black Sea fleets.

The Defense Ministry said it would ask parliament to approve the training when lawmakers reconvene next month.

The U.S. ship left the port a day after it arrived. Natalia Vitrenko, who is known for her anti-American stance, accused NATO of plotting to construct a special permanent military base in Crimea. Ukraine’s NATO office did not return a phone call seeking comment.

In a separate development, an anonymous bomb threat was called in against U.S. soldiers in a Ukrainian port city on Tuesday as anti-NATO protests by local residents continued. A Ukrainian bomb squad team inspected a dormitory housing 120 U.S. service personnel in the Crimean provincial capital Simferopol after an unidentified man informed authorities of an intention to detonate the device.

The caller made no demands but said NATO troops should stay out of Ukraine, according to a police report. Ukrainian sappers searched the building, but found no explosives. No U.S. service personnel were injured, the Interfax news agency reported.


17 Posts
This is not really surprising. The old guard having had their noses really pushed out of joint when the old soviet block broke up are always on the look out for ways to make themselves known.

Hopefully they will fade into insignificance without doing anything too obnoxious.

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