In Kiev, Ukrainians protest Russian action, vow to fight for their country

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(CBS News) KIEV, Ukraine – Ukraine’s prime minister calls it a “declaration of war.” The United States calls it an “invasion.” Russia says it’s protecting its people. What you call it depends on where you come from.

There are Russian forces in the Crimea region, and the White House says they effectively control the peninsula that makes up the southern portion of Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry is on his way to Ukraine Monday.

The U.S., European Union and NATO all say Russia is violating international law.

The question is: What can they do about it?

In pro-Western Kiev, what they’re doing is protesting.

Tens of thousands have gathered in the capital, demonstrating against Russia’s actions. Anger, outrage and fear filled Kiev’s Independence Square on Sunday.

Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk warned that Russia’s military intervention in Crimea has brought Ukraine to the brink of disaster.

“This is the red alert. This is not a threat. This is actually a declaration of war to my country,” he said.

The newly formed Ukrainian government ordered a full military mobilization, putting all armed forces on high alert and calling on the hundreds of thousands of reservists to be ready to fight.

Thousands of demonstrators rallied against Russia’s actions, calling President Vladimir Putin a dictator and a liar.

One sign read: “Putin: Hands off Ukraine.”

In the place where they’re still mourning those killed in demonstrations that brought the Russian-backed president down, activist Olesya Yeroshkina told us there’s little appetite for more bloodshed.

“Of course I am worried. I don’t want to have war, and I don’t want more people to die here for our independence,” she said.

But every man of fighting age CBS News spoke to, like lawyer Oleg Pekatch, said they were ready to do just that.

“What Putin is doing right now in Crimea is absolute madness for everyone – for Putin, for Russia, for Russian people, for Europe, for the whole world,” said Pekatch.

And if he is called on to fight, he says he will go.

“I’m more than sure,” Pekatch said, smiling.

Nearly everyone told CBS News they were hoping – if not entirely convinced – that Russia would not push further into Ukraine after taking complete control of Crimea.

For all their patriotism, they are also aware that Ukrainian forces lack the hardware and firepower to match the Russian military.

Meanwhile, as many 20,000 Russian soldiers have been on the move across Crimea in the past 24 hours.

They’ve taken over without firing a shot.

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  • john mcintyre

    Russia is invading Ukraine and if the us keeps screwing with them Russia will start a nuclear war

    • Branko Pezdi

      How exactly is the U.S under the weakest, most ignorant, most incompetent clown ever to be president, “screwing” with Russia?

  • Skillpot

    Those, like Putin, who have no concern for human life, and values, as long as he/they can send others to pull the load for them, need to be removed! Now, the way I read the mess, the actions of Putin, play into the hands of Corporate America like these conflicts, even wars, to keep the money flowing into the bank accounts!

  • Branko Pezdi

    I cannot believe that nobody has figured out what those SOB Russians are trying to do.

    They are bound and determined to make Obama miss a round of golf. You watch. And let me know if I’m not right.

  • Branko Pezdi

    I cannot believe that nobody has figured out what those SOB Russians are trying to do.

    They are bound and determined to make BHO miss a round of golf. You watch. And let me know if I’m not right.

  • Branko Pezdi

    One thing is for sure. If Obama misses his golf game only the most fanatical of Obamabots will blame Bush. But I think it will take much more than Putin starting a nuclear war to jeopardize Obama’s golf game, maybe another Zimmerman-Trevon Martin incident.

  • Wade Passler

    If the Russians attack the United States will attack. The United States has already committed to the Ukraine if the Russians attack. Most likely the Russians will attack and the United States and other countrys will with them.

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