Russia demanded Ukraine return two Russian soldiers reportedly abducted from the Crimean peninsula after Kiev said it picked up the deserters because they defected to Russia from the Ukrainian military following Moscow's annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Russia called the arrest "another act of gross provocation," Reuters reported Tuesday. The Russian defense ministry said the soldiers were "illegally detained" Sunday in the former Ukrainian region annexed by Moscow in 2014. The soldiers, Ensign Maxim Evgenyevich Odintsov and Junior Sergeant Alexander Vyacheslavovich Baranov, were transported to Ukraine's Mykolaiv region, north-west of the peninsula, BBC News reported. Russia claimed Ukraine would use "psychological and physical pressure" to get confessions from the soldiers "for crimes allegedly committed against Ukraine."
Twitter is obviously the place to be for anyone (or any nation) looking to pack a political punch in the 21st century. So on Tuesday the official Twitter account for Ukraine decided that tweeting a Simpsons GIF at Russia's Foreign Affairs account, itself pretty active on Twitter, would be the perfect way to properly usher the nations' conflict into the digital age. After Russian President Vladimir Putin met with President of France, Emmanuel Macron to deliver a joint press conference on Monday, much to the ire of Ukrainians, Putin said Anna Yaroslavna, queen consort of France from 1051 to 1060, was Russian. Ukraine later @'ed Russia on Tuesday to set the record straight and give the country a little history refresher about Yaroslavna, who married France's King Henry I but was in fact Kiev-born. When @Russia says Anne de Kiev established Russia-France relations, let us remind the sequence of events pic.twitter.com/nBKhQdyKql
Discussions over Crimea between the White House and Russia within the past few days have sparked questions about where the territory is, why it matters and, perhaps most importantly, if Russia will return the region to Ukraine. In a press conference Tuesday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said President Donald Trump expects the Kremlin to eradicate its "violence in Ukraine and return Crimea." The Russians, however, do not have the same plan in mind. The following morning, Russia's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a news briefing Crimea was part of the Russian Federation and Russia would not return the land to Ukraine. As a retaliation, Trump took to Twitter to bash the Obama Administration about the conflict.
Ukraine has filed a lawsuit at the UN's top court accusing Russia of sponsoring "terrorism" and illicitly funding separatist rebel groups - charges Russia denies. Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014, and fighting broke out in eastern Ukraine the following month between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces, a conflict in which close to 10,000 people have been killed. In the case announced on Tuesday by the International Court of Justice, Ukraine accused Russia of "intervening militarily in Ukraine, financing acts of terrorism and violating the human rights of millions of Ukraine's citizens". Ukraine further alleged that the takeover of Crimea "brazenly defied the UN Charter, seizing a part of Ukraine's sovereign territory by military force". Russia has repeatedly denied sending troops or military equipment to eastern Ukraine.
US state secretary has called on Russia "to honour its commitments" and fully restore an oft-violated truce between Moscow-backed rebels and Ukraine's government forces, saying Washington aims "to restore Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty". Rex Tillerson said on Sunday that "it is necessary for Russia to take the first step to de-escalate the situation in the east part of Ukraine", pulling back heavy weaponry to lines agreed upon under a two-year-old accord known as the Minsk Agreement. "We are disappointed by the lack of progress under the Minsk agreement," he said at a joint briefing with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko after they held talks. "We do call on Russia to honour its commitments." He also urged the Kremlin to allow the OSCE, a pan-European security body, to carry out their responsibilities.