UPDATE: Surrender Or Face 'Storm,' Russia Reportedly Tells Ukrai - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

UPDATE: Surrender Or Face 'Storm,' Russia Reportedly Tells Ukraine

NBCNEWS.COM - The Russian military has given Ukrainian forces in Crimea until 5 a.m. Tuesday (10 p.m. ET Monday) to surrender or face a "storm," Interfax news agency reported.

"If they do not surrender by 5 a.m. tomorrow, we will start a real storm in Ukrainian bases in Crimea," according to the statement sent by the Russians to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, a ministry source told Interfax. NBC News could not immediately confirm the report.

The ultimatum was attributed to Alexandr Vitko, chief commander of Russia's Black Sea fleet.

Ukraine mobilized for war on Sunday after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared he had the right to invade his neighbor to protect Russian citizens.

The standoff in Ukraine has created the greatest moment of tension between Russia and the West since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, an event Russian President Vladimir Putin once called the worst geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.

Russian, Ukrainian militaries in tense standoff

MOSCOW (AP) - Russia has effectively seized control of Ukraine's strategic Crimea peninsula without firing a shot, but many in Ukraine and elsewhere fear the Kremlin might follow up by sending troops into Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine. Such a move could trigger open hostilities between the Russian and Ukrainian militaries. As this glance shows, Russia's forces are much more powerful.
   
RED ARMY HEIRS
   
Both militaries are the successors of the Soviet army and have inherited its arsenals, structure and tactics. Ukraine surrendered its share of Soviet nuclear arsenals to Russia in the early 1990s.
   
The Russian military is much bigger, at 1 million men, compared to Ukraine's 180,000. The Ukrainian military has an estimated 200 combat aircraft and about 1,100 tanks, while Russia reportedly has about 1,400 combat aircraft and several thousand tanks.
   
Russia and Ukraine divided the Soviet Black Sea Fleet between them after the 1991 Soviet collapse. However, Ukraine has struggled to maintain its share of the fleet and has just a few combat-ready ships, far outnumbered by the Russian navy, which has a lease of the Crimean port of Sevastopol until 2042.
   
UNEQUAL OPPONENTS
   
The Russian military has undergone a major modernization in recent years, receiving large supplies of new weapons and conducting massive exercises. The cash-strapped Ukraine couldn't afford such a buildup and its forces have slowly degraded.
   
In addition to the funding shortage, the Ukrainian military's readiness was hurt by last year's decision by President Viktor Yanukovych to end conscription and turn the military into a volunteer force. The last wave of conscripts is half way through its one-year term, and their morale could be low. The new Ukrainian government has tried to call up some reservists, but it's unclear whether that will work.
   
The Russian military has largely recovered from its post-Soviet meltdown, and it recently has run a series of war games unseen since the Cold War times. An exercise involving 150,000 troops, hundreds of tanks and dozens of combat planes has been launched across western Russia just as Russian forces overtook Crimea. President Vladimir Putin attended the maneuvers Monday at a shooting range near St.Petersburg.
   
DIVIDED LOYALTIES
   
Ukraine's loyalties have been sharply divided between the Russian-speaking east and south, where people favor close ties with Moscow, and the west, where residents want to integrate more closely with the European Union.
   
Ukraine's armed forces mostly reflect that divide. Units stationed in Russian-speaking regions are mostly manned by local residents who don't necessarily support the new government in Kiev. That raises doubts about both divisions' loyalties in case of a military conflict with Russia.
   
The Ukrainian military's reluctance to confront the Russians became obvious in Crimea, where a newly-named Ukrainian navy chief went over to the pro-Russian local government, a day after his appointment. Regional officials say that thousands of Ukrainian servicemen have done the same, but that claim can't be independently confirmed.
   
TENSE STANDOFF IN CRIMEA
   
Forces of Russia's Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea and additional Russian troops sent to the peninsula have seized or blocked Ukrainian air bases, air defense missile batteries and other military facilities, and garrisons throughout the region. Ukraine's military acknowledged that "practically all" of its military facilities in Crimea have been surrounded or taken over.
   
A ferry crossing linking Crimea with Russia has been overtaken by Russian forces, which would allow a quick military buildup in Crimea, if Russia chooses to do so. A narrow strip of land linking the peninsula with mainland Ukraine also has been sealed by armed people.
   
The Russians have demanded that Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea lay down their weapons. Some have agreed and left or joined pro-Russia forces. But others have refused and barricaded themselves at their bases.
   
On Monday, several Russian navy ships blocked two Ukrainian warships in Sevastopol and demanded that their crews surrender.

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GENEVA (AP) - There are fears that Moscow will send even more troops into Ukraine's Crimea region.
    
Pro-Russian troops are controlling a ferry terminal on the easternmost tip of Crimea, close to Russia.
    
The troops are refusing to identify themselves, but they're speaking Russian.
    
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says Russian troops that have streamed into Ukraine are protecting his country's citizens living there.
    
NEW: EU weighs reaction to Russian incursion in Ukraine
    
BRUSSELS (AP) - European Union foreign ministers are working on a joint response to Russia's military incursion in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula that could include economic sanctions.
    
The 28 foreign ministers are holding an emergency meeting on Ukraine Monday to discuss what Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called "Europe's most dramatic crisis" since the end of the Cold War.
    
Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore said sanctions against Russia are an "option" that will be discussed. Several other ministers, however, cautioned the focus for now should be on diplomacy and forging a direct dialogue between Russia and the new leadership in Ukraine to deescalate the situation.
    
Spain's foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, said discussions are also underway on convening an emergency summit of EU leaders Thursday.

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