Russian_vehicles_Balaclava_1.3.14 copyRussia ratcheted up international tensions over Ukraine by a big notch Saturday, March 8, the day after mobilizing air and coastal defenses for a large-scale month-long drill to prevent the disruption of the May 16 Crimean referendum. The defense ministry in Moscow announced: “Russia is considering halting foreign inspections of its strategic weapons arsenal, including nuclear-capable missiles, in response to “threats” from the United States and NATO over the Ukraine crisis. Lines of tanks were seen Saturday heading from Russian bases towards Crimea. A high-ranking defense ministry official in Moscow, who was not named, released this statement to all Russian news agencies: “The unfounded threats towards Russia from the United States and NATO over its policy on Ukraine are seen by us as an unfriendly gesture that allows the declaration of force majeure circumstances.” By this statement, Moscow announces that due to “force majeure circumstances” it no longer feels bound by its commitment to international inspections under the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the United States and the Vienna Document between Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) member states. MORE