Russia Takes Southern Ukraine in 'Act of Agression'
CRIMEAN PENNISULA -- Secretary of State John Kerry is traveling to Ukraine for meetings Tuesday regarding the rising tensions with Russia.
The news comes as President Vladimir Putin's forces invaded and took complete control of the Crimean airspace, airports, highways, ports, and regional government without firing a single shot.
"What has already happened is a brazen act of aggression," Kerry said.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk agreed, warning the nation was "on the brink of a disaster."
***How difficult will it be for Kiev to re-establish control in Crimea? CBN News Reporter George Thomas addressed that question and more on The 700 Club, March 3.
Crimea is of huge significance for Russia as the Russian Black Sea Naval fleet is located there.
But Putin's ambitions go beyond the Crimean Peninsula. His next target could be eastern Ukraine.
Over the weekend, pro-Russian demonstrators took control of key government buildings in several regions, replacing European Union flags with Russian ones and calling for union with Moscow.
"We want Russia to hand out Russian passports to citizens who want them," Donetsk, Ukraine, resident Pavel Hutarev said.
Ukraine is accusing Moscow of orchestrating the takeover to justify an even wider invasion.
Of the 45 million people living in Ukraine, nearly 8 million are ethnic Russians. Putin claimed the new Ukrainian government installed after the ouster of Viktor Yanukovych is fascist and will persecute the ethnic minority, saying it's his job to protect them.
Meanwhile, the crisis is dividing some families.
"Putin is not going to leave us alone," one woman said. "My sisters in Russia are offended at me and are yelling at me to not speak ill of their president, but I say to them then your president shouldn't touch us!"
For many Russians, Ukraine is viewed as part of the motherland. So when thousands of Ukrainians took to the streets 103 days ago demanding closer ties to Europe and the West, Putin wasn't too happy about it.
Russia has not recognized the new pro-Western government in Kiev, and most experts believe Moscow will try anything to ensure it fails.
This weekend, Ukraine's new but unstable government put the country on a war footing, ordering up all military reservists to active duty.
This move comes as Russian troops urge Ukrainian soldiers to lay down their weapons and pledge allegiance to Russia.