THE presence of Russian troops in Ukraine has been described as “an act of terrorism” by Bolton’s Ukrainian community.
A spokesman for the group is now calling for the West to boycott the forthcoming Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi.
It is thought about 16,000 Russian troops are currently stationed in the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, a move which has drawn international condemnation.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that the use of force remains a last resort but Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn, a member of the Bolton branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain, said that Russia’s actions amount to “an invasion”.
Ukraine has mobilised its army to counter the Russian intervention and men across the country have received call-up papers.
Mr Tymchyshyn, who lives in The Haulgh area of Bolton, and whose father moved to England from the Ukraine in 1948, said: “I am emotionally wrecked with the situation. What is going to happen to these army reservists who are being called up?
“Crimea does not belong to Russia. They have no right to be there — and the fear is who will be next?”
He said that western countries need to take action and called for a boycott of the Paralympic Winter Games, which are due to start in Russia on March 7.
He said: “With what is going on, can Putin really guarantee the safety of the athletes? If western countries don’t attend it will hurt him.”
The Russian involvement in Ukraine follows the ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and the installation of a new interim government.
Protests erupted in the capital Kiev last year after Mr Yanukovych rejected a trade and association deal with the European Union in favour of forming closer ties with Russia.
The demonstrations began peacefully but ended in violence, with scores of protestors shot dead.
The stationing of troops by Russia in Crimea has raised tensions with the international community as it appears to go against the terms of the 1994 Budapest agreement in which Russia, the US and the UK all agreed to respect the “independence and sovereign-ty” of Ukraine’s borders.
Bolton North East MP David Crausby, who visited Ukraine as part of a NATO delegation before the violence erupted, said: “I agree that sanctions need to be taken against Russia, although I’m not sure a boycott of the games is the way to go. We shouldn’t politicise sport but I certainly support sanctions. Russia cannot be allowed to get away with what they are doing.”