Is Russia plotting to send in the army to annex Crimea? Former Kremlin adviser warns Ukrainian port of Sebastopol could be targeted within the next week

  • Move would be similar to Nazi Germany’s takeover of Austria
  • Vladimir Putin is sweeping aside Western warnings and preparing troops
  • Dmitry Medvedev said he did recognise new authorities in Kiev
  • Came after unconfirmed claims that ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was under Russian military guard

By Will Stewart

| UPDATED:          18:27 EST, 24 February 2014

A Russian annexation of the Crimean port of Sebastopol in Ukraine could happen within a week, a former Kremlin adviser has warned.

Likening the situation to Nazi Germany’s takeover of Austria, Andrey Illarionov said a furious Russian president Vladimir Putin is sweeping aside Western warnings and putting troops on alert.

It came amid unconfirmed claims that ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was under Russian military guard in Sebastopol, after a warrant was issued for his arrest for ‘mass murder’.

Power: Many boats from Russia's Black Sea Fleet are stationed in the Crimean port of Sevastopol

Power: Many boats from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet are stationed in the Crimean port of Sevastopol

Crimea: The annexation of the Ukrainian port would be similar to Nazi Germany's acquisition of Austria in 1938

Crimea: The annexation of the Ukrainian port would be similar to Nazi Germany’s acquisition of Austria in 1938

And ominously, Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev warned it did not recognise the authorities which came to power in Kiev’s weekend revolution in which 82 people died.

He said: ‘We do not understand what is going on there. There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens.’

Kiev believes Russian president Vladimir Putin – enraged by the ousting of Moscow-backed Yanukovych – is already putting its armed forces on alert.

Former Kremlin economics advisor Andrey Illarionov warned that a furious Putin is sweeping aside Western warnings and preparing a ‘Russian Anschluss of Sevastopol which is due to happen in a week, maximum three weeks.’

He added: ‘Susan Rice, the US President’s aide on national security, has warned Putin against bringing Russian troops into Ukraine. I am not sure that Putin will take this warning into account.’

Relationship: Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych winks at Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting last year. Yanukovych is said to be under Russian military guard after he was ousted from power

Relationship: Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych winks at Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting last year. Yanukovych is said to be under Russian military guard after he was ousted from power

Illarionov previously warned about plans being hatched in Moscow to seek a partition of Ukraine.

He said at the beginning of this month that Kremlin thinking had coalesced around ‘getting control of Crimea, Lugansk and maybe part of Sumy region, in other words of the places where Russian popularity dominates.’

Illarionov predicted three weeks ago: ‘It is known that Putin does not consider Ukraine to be a state. ‘Many in the Kremlin are calling it sub-state. From their point of view, Ukraine will never again be so weak in front of Russia.

‘And Russia will never again be so strong, as it is today. And the West – the EU and USA – will never be so indifferent to Ukrainian crisis as they are today.’

Putin has previously cited a duty to protect the lives of its citizens as justification for military intervention in Georgia in 2008.

Armed presence: Ukrainian sailors march in the Black Sea port of Sebastopol. Ousted President Yanukovych is said to be under Russian Military Guard in the area

Armed presence: Ukrainian sailors march in the Black Sea port of Sebastopol. Ousted President Yanukovych is said to be under Russian Military Guard in the area

Yanukovych, 63, has been on the run since Saturday, but was sighted in Balaclava, close to the vast Russian Black Sea fleet HQ at Sevastopol and its related military bases.

Yesterday a warrant was issued for his arrest for ‘mass murder’ following the shooting dead of scores of protestors.

One unconfirmed report suggested a Ukrainian air force MiG29 was circling Russian military base number 831 – which is on Ukrainian territory – to prevent any take-offs amid concerns Moscow’s military machine were attempting to take the ex-president into hiding.

Russia made no comment on Yanukovych’s whereabouts but ex-president Dmitry Medvedev issued a withering attack on the Kiev authorities and their support by the West.

‘The legitimacy of a whole number of organs of power that function there raises great doubts.

‘Some of our foreign, Western partners think otherwise… this is some kind of aberration of perception when people call legitimate what is essentially the result of an armed mutiny.

Political crisis: Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev warned it did not recognise the authorities which came to power in Kiev

Political crisis: Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev warned it did not recognise the authorities which came to power in Kiev

‘If you consider people who swagger around Kiev in black balaclavas carrying Kalashnikovs to be a government, then we will find it difficult to work with such a government.’

He also hinted Moscow could seek to strangle Ukraine by ramping up gas prices and holding back a £12billion bailout to the basket case economy which is teetering on bankruptcy.

The leader of the nationalist Freedom Party in Ukraine, Oleh Tyagnibok, warned Russia military movements in Sevastopol and the Black Sea could be the start of intervention in Ukraine.

‘We have information that Russian military forces are concentrating there,’ he said. ‘In particular, ships with Russian marines. It may be on one hand Russian support for Yanukovich, on the other hand – the beginning of Russian military intervention.

‘We do not exclude that the Kremlin has begun its plan to tear up Ukraine.

‘This is why we must not let this scenario develop. We will do all we can to prevent the war with Russia.’

A total of 82 died and 447 people were hospitalised in in Kiev in the carnage that led ultimately to the fall of the government.

The new Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said an arrest warant had been issued for Yanukovych and his henchmen over the massacre of protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square last week.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2567060/Is-Russia-plotting-send-army-annex-Crimea-Former-Kremlin-adviser-warns-Ukrainian-port-Sebastopol-targeted-week.html#ixzz2uJ3HwvUq Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

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