March 3 - The European Union and other Western powers scramble to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, where Russia has wrested control from Kiev. Mana Rabiee reports.
The crisis in Ukraine took a Cold War tone on Monday. Russian forces were completing their seizure of the Russian-speaking Crimean peninsula, where Moscow maintains an important naval base. In Belgium, the European Union scrambled an emergency meeting to find a diplomatic solution. EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton. (SOUNDBITE) (English) EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF CATHERINE ASHTON, SAYING: "We absolutely need to see a de-escalation of the situation." Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DUTCH FOREIGN MINISTER FRANS TIMMERMANS, SAYING: "The whole of Europe, both the European Union and other European countries, including Russia, would suffer tremendously if this would lead to a new confrontation on the European continent. We've left the Cold War behind us, it would be very unwise to try and rekindle it." Russia says it's securing its interests and its citizens in the restive Crimea. In Geneva on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected the wave of accusations from the West. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER, SERGEI LAVROV, SAYING: "Those who attempt to interpret the situation as an act of aggression and threaten us with sanctions and boycotts - these are the very same partners of ours who consistently have encouraged political forces close to them to deliver an ultimatum and refuse dialogue." Ukraine's Prime Minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, met with British Foreign Minister William Hague in the capital, Kiev. He regretted Ukraine wasn't a member of NATO, an alliance that would have given his country protection from military attack. (SOUNDBITE)(English) UKRAINE'S PRIME MINISTER, ARSENY YATSENIUK, SAYING: "We will tackle this problem, and any attempt of Russia to grab Crimea would have no success at all. Give us some time." But time may be limited. Russian media reported on Monday that Russia's Defense Minister had given Ukraine an ultimatum: Surrender Crimea by Tuesday, or face a military assault. That account was later retracted by an unnamed Russian defense official who called news of the ultimatum "nonsense".