SIMFEROPOL, UKRAINE – Russian choppers were spotted flying in Ukrainian airspace Friday, fueling rumors of an armed invasion.
Armed men surrounded the main airport in Ukraine’s southern region of Crimea – a pro-Russian stronghold.
Officials say the armed men are not interfering with airport operations, but still very intimidating.
Another omen? Russian flags raised atop government buildings.
Late Friday afternoon, President Barack Obama weighed in on the crisis, saying “Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interest of Ukraine, Russia or Europe,” adding, “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovych has come out of hiding for the first time since fleeing the country.
The defiant ex-pres told reporters in Russia Friday that he is, in fact, still president and that he was compelled to leave due to death threats.
He also asked for forgiveness from all who have suffered, but stopped short of taking the blame for the deaths of Ukrainian citizens.
Instead, Yanukovych blamed ‘the irresponsible policies of the west’ for backing protesters who occupied central Kiev.
He also criticized Ukraine’s interim government, saying he never gave any orders to shoot protesters.
Yanukovych said he was ‘ashamed’ he had not been able to maintain stability in his country, but promised to return once his safety could be guaranteed.
Good luck with that.
The only guarantee is this: there will be no easy way out of this mess.