Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ukraine to the Rescue!

Frame from NTV-Channel
U.S. Sailors Trapped by Protesters Freed by Ukrainian Troops
Created: 05.06.2006 13:50 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 13:50 MSK

Ukrainian troops freed American sailors trapped by anti-NATO demonstrators in Crimea Sunday, news website reported.

Protesters had surrounded a sanatorium where the 120 crew from a visiting navy ship were staying close to the Black Sea port of Feodosiya. The sailors arrived on the U.S. navy cargo ship Advantage on 27 May to bring equipment for a military exercise, Sea Breeze, scheduled for this summer.

But protesters say they should not have been allowed into the country because the parliament, which has been unable to form a government since the 26 March elections, has not authorised the deployment.

Opposition politicians have threatened to impeach the president, Victor Yushchenko, for allowing the U.S. servicemen into the country.

It has been a rough week for the sailors. The night they disembarked, they were forced to evacuate a navy barracks after a bomb threat was phoned in. No bomb was found, but last Friday their buses were stoned by crowds of anti-NATO protesters. Then on Saturday fresh protests blocked a road, forced their buses to turn back from new accommodation, taking them instead to the sanatorium in the town of Alushta.

The Pentagon and Ukraine’s navy insist the deployment is innocuous and will continue.

The American arrival comes with nerves frayed after weeks of bickering in parliament with the country split over whether to align itself with the West or Russia.


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