Russian President Vladimir Putin is showing no signs of heeding Western calls to ease the standoff in Crimea, where pro-Kremlin forces stepped up their takeover of the Ukrainian region preparing for a separatist referendum.
The melody Russians know as “Goodbye America” blared over loudspeakers as the host country’s athletes arrived at Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, where the Paralympic Games began 400 kilometers (250 miles) from the showdown in Crimea.
Russia said Ukraine’s natural gas debt climbed to almost $2 billion and signaled supplies may be cut, ratcheting up pressure on its neighbor as they scrap over the future of the Black Sea Crimea region.
Russia sent troops across Dagestan today as the government pressed an offensive against insurgents and new threats emerged less than three weeks before the Winter Olympics kick off in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said 40,000 police and special services officers have been deployed in the Black Sea resort of Sochi to ensure security ahead of the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony on Feb. 7.
Olympic teams including those of Hungary, Italy, Austria, Slovakia and Slovenia said they received “terror threats” weeks before the 2014 winter games in Russia. The Olympic ruling body said it may have been a hoax.