Officials: Ukraine row threatens world order

Sep 25, 2014, 6:48 AM EDT
Ukrainian soldiers prepare for joint instruction with U.S. troops on the third day of the 'Rapid Trident' bilateral military exercises between the United States and Ukraine that include troops from a variety of NATO and non-NATO countries on September 17, 2014 near Yavorov, Ukraine.
AFP/Getty Images

Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territory and its support of separatist fighters confronting government forces in eastern Ukraine threaten to revive the Cold War and destroy a world order based on rule of law, world leaders said Wednesday. USAToday reports:

Speaking on the opening day of the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the conflict in Ukraine "has now shaken relations between Russia and the United States," so "we are concerned that the old Cold War will return."

"This benefits no one," Yudhoyono said. The major powers have the responsibility to work together to solve major problems, but "it is not enough just to call for peaceful co-existence. That is so 20th century."

In March, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, which has a large ethnic Russian population. Ukraine and the United States have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of backing pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine with troops and weapons – a charge Putin denies.

A fragile cease-fire is in place, and Ukraine has granted greater autonomy for the restive eastern region to preserve the peace.

NATO has observed a significant withdrawal of Russian forces from inside Ukraine, but many Russian troops remain stationed nearby, an alliance military spokesman said on Wednesday. Reuters writes:

"There has been a significant pullback of Russian conventional forces from inside Ukraine, but many thousands are still deployed in the vicinity of the border," Lieutenant-Colonel Jay Janzen said in an e-mailed response to a request from Reuters for comment. "

Some Russian troops remain inside Ukraine. It is difficult to determine the number, as pro-Russian separatists control several border crossings and troops are routinely moving back and forth across the border.

Further, Russian special forces are operating in Ukraine, and they are difficult to detect," he said.