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Putin signs treaty annexing Crimea

"Putin signs treaty annexing Crimea" Continued...

Mychailo Wynnyckyj, a professor at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in the capital, believes further demonstrations could launch a full-scale Russian invasion. “In my opinion, if sufficient demonstrations of support for Russian annexation can be staged by FSB [Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation] operatives in Donetsk, Kharkiv, and Luhansk during the next few days (i.e., in the wake of the Crimean ‘referendum,’ and supposedly in euphoric support for Putin’s policies of ‘gathering the Russian lands’), an invasion of mainland Ukraine can be expected after the March 19 court ruling,” he wrote on his Facebook page. He expects an invasion no later than March 26.

Ukraine’s interim Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh said there are now 21,500 Russian troops in Crimea. Under agreements in place until 2042, Russia can station 25,000 troops at its leased Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol, but Russian soldiers have trespassed beyond their base, blockading Ukrainian naval ships, taking over local television stations, and surrounding Ukrainian soldiers.

The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced legislation that includes economic penalties on Russian officials tied to the Crimea takeover and $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine’s strapped government.

Moscow has said it will vote on the formal acceptance of Crimea into the Russian Federation on Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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