KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s military admitted Monday that pro-Russian troops have surrounded or taken over “practically all” its military facilities in Crimea — a move that Russia’s foreign minister defended as a necessary protection for the ethnic Russians on the Black Sea peninsula.
“This is a question of defending our citizens and compatriots, ensuring human rights, especially the right to life,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Geneva, where he was attending U.N. meetings.
There have been no reports, however, of any hostilities toward Russian-speaking in Ukraine during the country’s four months of political upheaval.
The Russian Foreign Ministry also issued a statement saying that Moscow believes Ukraine must honor its Feb. 21 agreement to form a new national unity government.
In Kiev, Ukraine’s new prime minister admitted his country had “no military options on the table” to reverse Russia’s military move into its Crimea region.
While Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk appealed for outside help and insisted that Crimea still remained part of his country, European foreign ministers held an emergency meeting on a joint response to Russia’s military move that could include economic sanctions.
“Any attempt of Russia to grab Crimea will have no success at all. Give us some time,” Yatsenyuk said at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.