Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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March 2, 2014

World scrambles as Russia tightens grip on Crimea

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Warning that it was "on the brink of disaster," Ukraine put its military on high alert Sunday and appealed for international help to avoid what it feared was the possibility of a wider invasion by Russia.

Outrage over Russia's military moves mounted in world capitals, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry calling on President Vladimir Putin to pull back from "an incredible act of aggression."

A day after Russia captured the Crimean Peninsula without firing a shot, fears grew in the Ukrainian capital and beyond that Russia might seek to expand its control by seizing other parts of eastern Ukraine. Senior Obama administration officials said the U.S. now believes that Russia has complete operational control of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of the country, and has more than 6,000 troops in the region.

Faced with the Russian threat, Ukraine's new government moved to consolidate its authority, naming new regional governors in the pro-Russia east, enlisting the support of the country's wealthy businessmen and dismissing the head of the country's navy after he declared allegiance to the pro-Russian government in Crimea.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said there was no reason for Russia to invade Ukraine and warned that "we are on the brink of disaster."

"We believe that our Western partners and the entire global community will support the territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine," he said Sunday in Kiev.

World leaders rushed to try to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis.

NATO held an emergency meeting in Brussels, Britain's foreign minister flew to Kiev to support its new government and Kerry was to travel to Ukraine on Tuesday. The U.S., France and Britain debated the possibility of boycotting the next Group of Eight economic summit, to be held in June in Sochi, the host of Russia's successful Winter Olympics.

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