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Ukraine Crisis

Breaking news, updates, and analysis on the uprising and crisis in Ukraine.

  • UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke in Moscow today on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea. Here's the full transcript of his remarks:

    Thank you for the opportunity of meeting with you today. 

    A visit to Russia at this time is taking place in a very sober atmosphere and I am here with a heavy heart. 

    As Secretary-General of the United Nations it is my responsibility and duty to do my utmost to promote international peace and security. 

    I am seriously concerned that developments in Ukraine and the increasing tensions between Ukraine and Russia pose grave risks to the countries themselves, the region and beyond. 

    Ladies and Gentlemen, 

    I just concluded a very productive and constructive meeting with President Vladimir Putin.   

    Before that, I also had a very good discussion with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. 

    During our discussion, the President and I exchanged views on how we can work together to resolve the current crisis. 

    As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia is critical to the maintenance of international peace and security – nowhere more so than in this region. 

    President Putin has been one of the most important partners to the United Nations and he has been an international leader who has repeatedly called for international disputes to be solved within the framework of the United Nations Charter. 

    During our meeting, I have emphasized that all parties refrain from any hasty or provocative actions that could further exacerbate an already very tense and very volatile situation. Inflammatory rhetoric can lead to further tensions and possible miscalculations, as well as dangerous counter-reactions. 

    Intimidation by radical elements must be prevented at all costs. 

    I was profoundly concerned by the recent incident where Ukrainian military bases were taken over. 

    It is at moments like this in history that a small incident can quickly lead to a situation spiralling out of anyone’s control. 

    An honest and constructive dialogue between Kyiv and Moscow is essential. 

    I told President Putin that I understand his legitimate concerns related to the situation of the Russian minority in Ukraine. I have said from the beginning of this crisis that it is critical that the human rights of all people in Ukraine, especially minorities, must be respected and protected. 

    In this connection, I have noted the recent commitment by Prime Minister [Arseniy] Yatsenuyk of Ukraine to reinstate Russian as an official language in Ukraine and other positive measures. 

    The best way to address concerns for the respect of human rights is for all concerned authorities to support and welcome the United Nations human rights monitors to give us an objective assessment as to what is happening on the ground. Some of those monitors are starting to deploy in Ukraine, including the eastern and south-eastern part of the country. 

    Tomorrow, I will continue my diplomatic mission by traveling to Kiev to meet with Acting President [Oleksandr]Turchynov and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, as well as other officials and civil society organizations. 

    It is clear that that we are at a crossroad. I will continue to fulfil my duty as Secretary-General of the United Nations and engage with all relevant parties. We must employ every possible diplomatic tool at our disposal to solve this crisis, which has grave political and economic ramfications. 

    The world is watching and history will judge us on how we assume our responsibilities and our actions as they relate to the fundamental principles of the UN Charter. 

    I will do whatever I can do to help restore good relations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine – two brotherly countries and two founding members of the United Nations. 

  • Russia says it has imposed entry bans on nine U.S. lawmakers and officials in retaliation to Washington's sanctions over Crimea.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry on Thursday released the list that includes John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, Robert Menendez, the head of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, other senators and administration officials.

    The move came minutes after President Barack Obama introduced a new round of U.S. sanctions.

    [The Associated Press]
  • French President Hollande says the planned European Union-Russia summit has been canceled because of the Ukraine crisis, The Associated Press reports.
  • President Obama will deliver a statement on Ukraine at 11 a.m. ET, according to a statement from the White House.
  • US Iran negotiator Wendy Sherman: no indication Russia shifting on Iran. Worked with Ryabkov before he said that & he was focused as ever
  • Parliament votes 444 to 1 for annexation of Crimea. @iponomarev the lone voice of sanity/Russophobic fifth columnism (delete as appropriate)
  • U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that he was "deeply concerned" by the situation involving Ukraine and Russia.

    Ban is on a visit to both nations to encourage all parties involved in the crisis over Ukraine and its Crimea region, which Western nations say Russia has illegally annexed, to find a peaceful solution.

  • Germany's Volkswagen will stick with ambitious expansion plans in Russia even as European leaders consider sanctions over the country's seizure of Crimea, the carmaker's chief executive said.

    EU leaders will hold talks on Thursday about how to tighten the screws on Russia, how to support Ukraine's stricken economy and how best to wean themselves off a dependency on Russian oil and gas in years to come.

    "I believe we should not scale back our activities (in Russia) because of this," VW's Martin Winterkorn told Reuters on Thursday on the sidelines of a conference in Hanover, Germany.

    Europe's largest automotive group, which spent 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion) on Russian operations from 2006 to 2013, said in December 2012 that it would invest a further 840 million euros in its sixth-biggest market throuh to the end of 2015.

    Volkswagen is building a new engine factory in Kaluga, where it already employs more than 5,100 people at an assembly plant that makes VW and Skoda models.

    The company has a goal to boost sales in Russia by more than 60 percent to 500,000 cars, from 303,000 last year.

    "Our sales numbers continue to look good, but we're paying very close attention to what is happening there," CEO Winterkorn said. "Investments are still running; we will not stop the (new) engine plant."

    VW's finance chief Hans-Dieter Poetsch last week said that the carmaker was grappling with effects of "extreme" currency volatility that was placing a "clear burden" on operations in Russia. ($1 = 0.7189 euros)

  • Russia's State Duma lower house of parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a treaty to annex Crimea from Ukraine, taking the Black Sea peninsula a step closer to joining the Russian Federation.

    The Federation Council upper house will hold a similar vote on Friday, completing ratification of a treaty that was signed by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

  • Lavrov's speech has ended.
  • Right now, I suggest that you consider these draft documents, Lavrov told the Duma, saying he suggests the Duma approves the agreement and ratifies the treaty to allow Crimea and Sevastopol to join Russia.

    I'm convinced this will be a 'turning point' in the lives of Crimean and Russian people, Lavrov said. 
  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov is now addressing the Duma ahead of the body's vote to ratify the treaty for Crimea to join Russia.

    Lavrov said the Constitutional Court has already approved the treaty Putin ceremonially signed earlier this week.
  • Have spoken to @LaurentFabius , @JohnKerry and Italian FM Mogherini today. Strong agreement on next steps on #Ukraine
  • The OSCE has launched a National Dialogue project in Ukraine, the organization announced in a press release.

    From OSCE:

    The OSCE today started to deploy  a team of 15 international experts to Ukraine as part of a National Dialogue project to identify areas for further OSCE activities to support confidence-building between different parts of Ukrainian society.

    The project team will be deployed for four weeks in selected locations agreed with the Ukrainian government to gather information about issues of concern, in particular political, humanitarian and minority issues.

    The project aims to contribute to a peaceful and sustainable political transition in the country and to immediately address problematic issues through supporting a national, inclusive and impartial dialogue throughout Ukraine.

    The team is being deployed following a request by Ukraine. The project will be carried out by the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine.

    The 15-person expert team is headed by a Team Leader, Ambassador Hidajet Biščević of Croatia, and supported by ten locally-recruited administrative staff, interpreters and drivers.

    The team will submit a final report with concrete recommendations on how the OSCE can support dialogue and restore confidence in Ukraine on the local, regional and national levels.

    Note to editors:

    This National Dialogue project is different from other initiatives taken by OSCE and its participating States, such as

    • the visit by military and civilian personnel from OSCE participating States to Ukraine under the Vienna Document 2011 to dispel concerns of unusual military activity; or

    • the election observation mission for the early presidential elections in Ukraine scheduled for 25 May 2014;

    • a possible future monitoring mission, which will go ahead if agreed by consensus of the 57 participating States.

  • According to the Russian Foreign Minister, the Duma will vote on Crimea annexation at 4 p.m. local time.

    Here is the translated statement from the Foreign Ministry:

    20 March at 4 p.m. in the State Duma will begin consideration of the draft federal law on the ratification of the Treaty between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Crimea on the adoption in the Russian Federation Republic of Crimea and the Education Act of the Russian Federation new subjects. " presentation will be made by the official representative of the President of the Russian Federation's Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov.
  • According to Interfax, which is citing the defense ministry, Russia will demand compensation if a deal to buy a French helicopter-carrier ship is canceled, Reuters reports.
  • In an interview with San Diego's KNSD-TV, President Obama says the US will not get involved in any 'military excursion' in Ukraine.
  • Churkin:Western partners coming up w/recipes to extricate from crisis in Ukraine. We presented them a vision, in keeping w/Feb21 agreement
  • Power concludes: "What Russia has done is wrong as a matter of law, wrong as a matter of history, and wrong as a matter of policy... We must be very clear that what happened in Crimea cannot be repeated in other parts of Ukraine."
  • Power condemn's Russia's rejection of OSCE election observers today in Vienna.

    "Russian says they understand the urgency of the situation, but they vote with their feet," says Power. "Objective information is inconvenient to Russia."
  • .@AmbassadorPower says Russia's latest UNSC speech "shows more imagination than Tolstoy or Chekov."
  • US Ambassador Samantha Power is now addressing the UN Security Council.

    "We are prepared to take additional steps if Russian aggression and Russian provocations continue," says Power, referencing sanctions passed by the US and EU in the past several days.

    "This crisis was never about protecting the rights of ethnic Russians," says Power. "If there was ever a time to be concerned about human rights in Crimea, it is now."
  • Churkin: In accordance w/Russian-Crimean treaty, there will be 3 equal state languages: Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar.
  • Russia #un amb Churkin attacks "imperial and colonial habits" of western nations.
  • Ukraine's security chief says Ukraine is planning a military exercise with the United States and Britain, the Associate Press reports.
  • Russia will respond in kind to US sanctions, considering 'asymmetrical' reactions if Washington escalates confrontation, Interfax reports, quoting Russia's deputy foreign minister.
  • The United Nations has released the following statement about Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's upcoming trip to Russia and Ukraine:

    The Secretary-General is departing New York this afternoon for a visit which will take him to the Russian Federation and to Ukraine as part of his diplomatic efforts to encourage all parties to resolve the current crisis peacefully.

    The Secretary-General has consistently called for a solution that is guided by the principles of the United Nations Charter.

    His first stop will be Moscow, where tomorrow, 20 March, he will meet with President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other senior officials. 

    The Secretary-General will travel on Friday, 21 March, to Kiev, where he will hold talks with Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk and other officials.

    While in the Ukrainian capital, he will also meet with members of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission and representatives of civil society.

  • Armed men stand at the entrance of the naval headquarters in Sevastopol on March 19, 2014 (Baz Ratner/Reuters)

  • In a very smart, detailed analysis, Peter Baker argues for The New York Times that this might not be the oft-feared return to the Cold War but rather, 'a sustained period of confrontation and alienation.'

    From the Times:

    The decision by President Vladimir V. Putin to snatch Crimea away fromUkraine, celebrated in a defiant treaty-signing ceremony in the Kremlin on Tuesday, threatens to usher in a new, more dangerous era. If it is not the renewed Cold War that some fear, it seems likely to involve a sustained period of confrontation and alienation that will be hard to overcome. The next reset, if there ever is one, for the moment appears far off and far-fetched.

    “This is an earthquake, and not a 4-point earthquake,” said Toby T. Gati, a longtime Russia specialist who served in President Bill Clinton’s State Department and now works on business deals for the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld. While it is not a return to the Cold War, she said, it does dispel the dreams of 1989. “Europe whole and free? Well, it’s a Europe free-for-all. And we don’t know how to react to it. And we don’t know how to control the narrative anymore.

    Stephen J. Hadley, who was President George W. Bush’s national security adviser, said it would be harder to recover from this clash than in the past because Mr. Putin is effectively rejecting the international order established after the collapse of the Soviet Union. “He wants to rewrite the history that emerged at the end of the Cold War,” Mr. Hadley said. “We have fundamentally different approaches to what Europe is going to be.

  • UN Moscow office confirm that Ban Ki Moon coming to Moscow tomorrow. Will meet Putin and Lavrov.
  • #Ukraine : Merkel is probably the leader best placed to talk to Putin but that's a problem for others (Poland), says official
  • #Ukraine : EU braced for Russian retaliation with divide & rule tactics targeting Germany, says senior source
  • German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Wednesday he had told his Russian counterpart that a mandate for a mission by Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers to Ukraine must be agreed within 24 hours.

    Steinmeier told reporters he had spoken to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and the Chairman of the OSCE and that they had overcome differences on the number of staff to be sent but still had to agree on the regions to be visited.

    "We need an observer mission now and in my conversations this morning I said agreement on a mandate must take place within the next 24 hours," Steinmeier told a news conference.

  • According to IFAX, The Russian Defense Ministry says the signatories to the OSCE 2011 Vienna document on military cooperation have exhausted the quotas to inspect Russian military facilities and the planned inspection in the coming days will be the last, Reuters reported around 1:30 a.m. ET on Wednesday.
  • According to The Associated Press, an AP photographer has witnessed Crimea self-defense forces storming Ukrainian navy headquarters in Sevastopol.
  • With Crimea in his pocket, Putin eyes next step

    Whatever hopes there may have been that the Crimean crisis could be de-escalated while leaving Ukraine intact appear to have been quashed by President Vladimir Putin’s nationalist tirade against Western hypocrisy in a speech to Russia's parliament on Tuesday.

    “Our Western partners, headed by the United States… have come to believe in their exceptionalism and their sense of being the chosen ones,” Putin said to uproarious applause. “That they can decide the destinies of the world, that it is only them who can be right.”

    Even in the face of intensifying economic pressure from the West and further threats of diplomatic isolation, such firebrand rhetoric could create a momentum Putin might find impossible to walk back — if that had ever been his intention. Putin now appears poised to complete the annexation of Crimea without firing a shot — Moscow says the shooting at a Simferopol military facility on Tuesday that claimed the life of a Ukrainian soldier was the work of local irregulars — and his confrontation with Western powers has sent his domestic political popularity soaring.

    Many observers had hoped that acquiring Crimea would mark the peak of the Russian intervention in Ukraine, having read the aggression as a form of retaliation for the recent uprising in Kiev that brought to power a Ukrainian government that spurned ties with Russia in favor of greater European integration. Crimea has now declared itself part of Russia and Putin is celebrating a rare geopolitical victory against Western rivals whose limited economic and military leverage could not counter his commitment in Ukraine.

    But Kiev’s new leaders fear that massive Russian military exercises just across the eastern border suggest that Moscow's incursion into Ukraine has only just begun.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • President Obama spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel today about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Here's a readout of their call:

    President Obama spoke this morning with Chancellor Merkel regarding Russia's violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.  The leaders condemned Russia's moves to formally annex Crimea, which is a violation of international law, and noted there would be costs.  

    They agreed it was vital to send international monitors from the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe and the United Nations to southern and eastern Ukraine immediately.
     Both leaders agreed to continue to underscore to Russian President Putin that there remains a clear path for resolving this crisis diplomatically, in a way that addresses the interests of both Russia and the people of Ukraine.  

    Finally, the leaders discussed ways to support Ukraine as it works to stabilize its economy and prepare for elections in May.
     They noted the importance of bilateral as well as multilateral support for Ukraine, including through the International Monetary Fund and the European Union.

    The two leaders agreed to continue to coordinate closely on the situation in Ukraine in the days to come, including at the G-7 meeting in the Hague

  • Russian President Putin tells the crowd in Moscow's Red Square that Crimea has returned to 'home port,' Reuters reports.
  • Russia will face serious consequences for President Vladimir Putin's "completely unacceptable" attempt to annex Ukraine's Crimea region, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday.

    "The steps taken by President Putin today to attempt to annex Crimea to Russia are in flagrant breach of international law and send a chilling message across the continent of Europe," Cameron said in a statement.

    "It is completely unacceptable for Russia to use force to change borders, on the basis of a sham referendum held at the barrel of a Russian gun.

    "President Putin should be in no doubt that Russia will face more serious consequences and I will push European leaders to agree further EU measures when we meet on Thursday," he said.

  • Ukrainian military base in Simferopol stormed right now, reports of snipers, 1 Ukr. soldier injured. Might be a start of something serious
  • An Islamist website sympathetic to militants in Russia's north Caucasus is saying insurgent leader Doku Umarov is dead, Reuters reports.

    Al Jazeera America is unable to independently confirm this report.
  • British Prime Minister Cameron says Russia will face serious consequences for its completely unacceptable attempt to annex Crimea, Reuters reports.
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