UNSC, EU, NATO to hold urgent meetings over Ukraine

NEW YORK/BRUSSELS - The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) will hold an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss the crisis in Ukraine, after the Russian parliament approved plans to send troops into the autonomous Crimea region of Ukraine.

The UK, one of the five permanent members of the UNSC, called the meeting at 2:00 pm EST (9:00 pm Turkey local time), to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine, within the scope of the letter Ukraine submitted to the Security Council on Friday.

UNSC held another urgent meeting on Friday regarding the situation in Ukraine saying that it is important for all political actors to exercise maximum restraint and pursue inclusive dialogue.

The Council held Friday's closed-door consultations at the request of the Permanent Mission of Ukraine to the UN, who appealed to the Council president for an urgent meeting in a letter.

“Support was expressed for the unity, territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. The Council agreed that it was important that all political actors in Ukraine exercise maximum restraint, and called for an inclusive dialogue recognizing the diversity of Ukrainian society," said Raimonda Murmokaité, permanent representative of Lithuania, which holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation body in February.

After Friday's urgent meeting of the UNSC, U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, called upon Moscow to withdraw its armed forces from Crimea, while Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said that Russia is acting within existing agreements on the stationing of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea.

Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council and is able to block any proposed action by its members.

Foreign ministers of the European Union will convene at an extraordinary meeting on Monday to discuss Russia’s potential use of armed forces in Ukraine.

An Anadolu Agency correspondent in Brussels reported that the EU Foreign Ministers meeting will discuss the latest developments in Crimea, and seek to determine a joint EU position.

Meanwhile, Lithuania and Latvia called upon the North Atlantic Council, the decision-making body of NATO, to hold an extraordinary session on Ukraine, citing security concerns.

"Russia must respect Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and borders, including the movement of Russian forces in Ukraine," said Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen on his official Twitter account.

Rasmussen also voiced an "urgent need" for de-escalation in Crimea, highlighting that "NATO allies continue to coordinate closely."

Earlier on Saturday, Russia’s parliament unanimously approved President Vladimir Putin's request for potential use of armed forces in Ukraine’s Crimean Autonomous Republic, as Crimea’s Prime Minister tightens the hold on security forces.

Putin’s motion to deploy Russian troops in Crimea came after Sergey Aksenov, the prime minister of the autonomous Republic of Crimea, called "for assistance in guaranteeing peace on the territory of the autonomous Republic of Crimea," upon which Kremlin said it would not disregard the appeal.

Claiming control of the security forces in the country, Aksenov said that the military, police and other security services would receive orders directly from him, according to Russian news agency Interfax.

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