by Xinhua writer Lu Yu
BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- As the West reacted with alarm to Russia's latest approval of military action in Ukraine, tensions might further escalate.
Based on the fact that Russia and Ukraine have deep cultural, historical and economic connections, it is time for Western powers to abandon their Cold War thinking, stop trying to exclude Russia from the political crisis they failed to mediate, and respect Russia's unique role in mapping out the future of Ukraine.
Protests in Ukraine started on Nov. 21, 2013, with peaceful demonstrations demanding the country's European integration, but soon snowballed into a violent movement against authorities.
Crimea, an autonomous republic within Ukraine, currently has become the center of the crisis in Ukraine.
Crimea is a multiethnic region enjoying autonomy after Ukraine gained independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991. According to the 2001 Ukrainian Census, 58.3 percent of the Crimean population are ethnic Russians and most of them hold Russian passports.
Russia also maintained its only Black Sea naval base in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea.
The Russian parliament on Saturday authorized President Vladimir Putin to use military force to protect Russian interests. Russia has reportedly increased movement of troops and equipment into Crimea.
It is quite understandable when Putin said his country retained the right to protect its interests and Russian-speakers living in Ukraine.
Over the decades, Ukraine's population was divided along language barriers with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union (EU) while eastern and southern regions looking to Russia.
Although the EU has made efforts to broker a peace deal between Yanukovych and the opposition in order to solve the crisis, the situation in Ukraine rapidly worsened.
Right now, the West should show more appreciation for what Russia can do to solve the crisis in Ukraine. Given Russia's historical and cultural influence in the country, the Kremlin is the piece that cannot be missing in this political puzzle.
The West should also be honest with the fact that their biased mediation has polarized Ukraine and only made things worse in the country.
Ukraine now appears headed for an economic depression that can hardly be cured by its Western neighbors, as the EU itself is also struggling economically.
Looking to the future, Russia's economic cooperation and assistance are vital for Ukraine to solve its various problems.
Right now, the Ukrainians have to figure out what is best for their own country and solve the problems through political dialogue and negotiations.
At the same time, the United States and European countries must work with, not against, Russia to tackle the Ukraine crisis.
Putin justifies move in Ukraine amid NATO accusation, U.N. calls for "cooler heads"
UNITED NATIONS/MOSCOW, March 2 (Xinhua) -- Russia is trying to justify its possible military action in Ukraine as NATO accuses Moscow of "threatening Europe's security", while the United Nations calls for "cooler heads" and Ukraine warns of Russian "aggression."
In a telephone conversation with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country retained the right to protect its interests and Russian speakers living in Ukraine if violence spread in eastern Ukrainian regions and Crimea in the south. Full story
NATO condemns "military escalation" in Crimea, urging peaceful resolution
BRUSSELS, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The NATO on Sunday condemned Russia's "military escalation" in Crimea of southern Ukraine and expressed "grave concern" regarding the authorization by the Russian Parliament to use armed forces on the territory of Ukraine.
"Military action against Ukraine by forces of the Russian Federation is a breach of international law and contravenes the principles of the NATO-Russia Council and the Partnership for Peace," the NATO said in a statement. Full story
Merkel criticizes Putin for violating international law
BERLIN, March 2 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday criticizes Russian President Vladimir Putin for violating the international law with the Russian intervention in Crimea, a deputy spokesman of German government said.
Merkel said Putin "has violated the international law with the unacceptable Russian intervention in Crimea", calling on him to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine, deputy spokesman Georg Streiter said in a statement. Full story
Kerry condemns Russia's "incredible act of aggression" against Ukraine
WASHINGTON, March 2 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday denounced Russia's "incredible act of aggression" against Ukraine and threatened economic sanctions by America and its allies to isolate Russia.
The top American envoy called on Russia to consider other options to address its concerns about the treatment of ethnic Russian and minority populations in Ukraine, echoing a message broached by U.S. President Barack Obama in his 90-minute talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin over the phone a day ago. Full story