Ministry calls in Russian ambassador

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Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende called in Russia’s ambassador to Norway on Monday, to express Norway’s strong objections to Russia’s military escalation in Ukraine. Brende already has joined NATO and other countries in condemning the escalation on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and now Norway’s foreign ministry is also warning Norwegians against traveling to the area.

The foreign ministry confirmed to news bureau NTB on Monday that Brende called in the Russian ambassador, Vyacheslav Pavlovskiy, for talks on the continuing drama in Ukraine. A long list of world leaders have accused Russia, as has Brende, of violating Ukraine’s “territorial integrity,” and threatening the peace and security of all of Europe.

Meanwhile, new reports were coming in from Ukraine border guards that even more Russian troops were streaming towards Crimea. Russia has claimed it needs to protect Russians living on the strategically important peninsula, while also needing to protect its own military bases there that it leases from Ukraine.

‘Expects borders to be respected’
Brende said he “made it clear” to Russia’s ambassador that Norway, which shares a border with  Russia, expects Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and borders. The Russian ambassador’s response was not immediately revealed.

Norway last week welcomed the formation of a new government in Ukraine, after its former leader stepped down and fled to Moscow amidst massive demonstrations in Kiev that turned violent and fatal. Brende said at the time that it was “important for the country to quickly create a functioning state authority and that it was “completely necessary” that reforms be put in place.

Urging reforms and dialogue
Brende stressed that it also was extremely important for the new political leadership in Ukraine to reform the former government’s “culture of corruption” and urged that “a good dialogue” between Ukraine and Russia begin quickly. He said Norway and other European countries were ready to help Ukraine and expected Russia to also support the new Ukrainian government “in a constructive manner.”

Instead, as soon as the Winter Olympics in Sochi were over, Russian President Vladimir Putin started mobilizing military troops and sending them to southeastern Ukraine. The thousands of armed Russian troops now in place and continuing to arrive in Crimea have been called an “occupation” that Ukraine’s new government leaders already have said amounts to a declaration of war.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been trying to launch dialogue between Russia and Ukraine, overseen by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The New York Times reported on Monday, though, that Merkel views Putin as having an entirely difference perception of reality than most of the rest of the world. US officials and those in other countries that are ranked as the largest in the world, are reportedly considering throwing Russia out of the so-called G8 group of nations if it fails to withdraw forces from Ukraine and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund