Pro-Russian forces refused to let a foreign military mission enter Crimea in southern Ukraine this weekend, firing automatic weapons into the air as a warning.
The multinational group of military officers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was trying to enter the embattled Ukrainian peninsula from the north.
The armed men told them they had no authorization to enter Crimea. The foreign officers stopped, and no violence was reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin isn't responding to increasing international pressure to back away from his invasion into parts of Ukraine.
In a recent phone conversation with Putin, President Barack Obama proposed a diplomatic solution that included the following:
- Direct talks between Ukraine and Russia,
- Russian forces returning to their bases,
- International monitors in Ukraine.
Meanwhile, six U.S. fighter jets are now in Lithuania to bolster air patrols over the Baltics, and a U.S. warship is in the Black Sea to participate in long-planned exercises.
Still, pro-Russian authorities have pushed Crimea's parliament to call for a public referendum to officially vote to become part of Russia.
But U.S. and European Union leaders said they aren't going to recognize that vote.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's interim President Oleksandr Turchynov, a devout evangelical Christian, told the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association that "stories of God's hand abound" in the midst of the Ukrainian crisis.
Turchynov asked believers worldwide to "pray for us so that peace would return and people would be able to live peacefully."
He said he hoped for victory without an armed conflict with Russia, based on the biblical promise, "If God is with us, no one can be against us."
To read the interview in full, click here.