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Ukraine Crisis

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

  • The first Ukrainian medalist of the Sochi Paralympics dedicated her achievement to "an independent Ukraine," appealing for peace as Russia intensifies its control of Crimea.

    Olena Iurkovska claimed bronze in the first biathlon event on the first day of competition on Saturday — the women's 6 kilometer sitting competition.

    After finishing behind Svetlana Konovalova of Russia, Iurkovska said: "I devote my first medal in Sochi to an independent Ukraine. Every time I race, it will be for Ukrainian independence and peace in my country."

    [The Associated Press]
  • Ukraine's acting foreign minister urged Russian to help ensure international observers can operate in Crimea, Reuters reported a little before 4:30 a.m. Saturday.
  • According to Russian news agencies, Moscow is mulling a freeze on US military inspections under arms control pact, The Associated Press reports.
  • Ukraine MoD spoxman confirms that Russians have pulled back. "The base is now in complete control of Ukraine armed forces."
  • #Ukraine staged a symbolic protest against Russia by sending only 1 member of its team to the #ParalympicsWinterGames http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BiJ9CXECQAAwJTz.jpg

  • Armed men thought to be Russians drove a truck into a Ukrainian missile defence post in the Crimea region on Friday and took control without a shot being fired, a Reuters reporter on the scene said.

    Initial reports said the truck had smashed through the gates and that post in the city of Sevastopol was being stormed but the reporter could not see any signs of the gates being damaged.

    A Ukrainian military official, Vladislav Seleznyov, said by telephone that the armed men took over the base without any shooting and that no one was hurt.

    Another Ukrainian official told Reuters at the post that he was now mediating between the Ukrainian forces and the armed group inside, and that no arms had been seized.

    [Reuters]
  • Ukraine Colonel tells me the stormed base is large and sprawling, Russians only seized a small part. MoD spoxman says 100 Ukrainians inside
  • Ukraine air force Colonel tells to TIME that Russian commander in charge of siege now demanding Ukraine forces lay down arms and surrender
  • Ukraine MoD spoxman confirms storm of air force base in Sevastopol. Russian troops already seized part of base. Says unaware of shots fired
  • An earlier report in Pravda, Ukraine's leading English-language newspaper, cited an Interfax report of armed men storming a Ukrainian military facility:

    In Sevastopol, the Russian soldiers stormed the Ukrainian military unit A2355.

    This was reported by the news agency Interfax-Ukraine

    He said the Russian military struck the gate of a military unit, captured near building and broke out to the command post.


    A Reuters reporter on the ground has essentially confirmed the earlier Pravda report, but it's unclear whether the armed men are actually Russian military or part of a pro-Russia local militia.

    I'll include more updates as they come in from our reports in the field. 
  • A Reuters reporter says armed men have entered a Ukrainian military post in Crimea and taken control. No shots have been fired.

    The Ukrainian forces and armed men, thought to be Russians, are currently holding negotiations. No arms have been seized,
  • Armed men enter #Ukraine military posts in #Crimea and take control, no shots fired - @Reuters witness at the scene reports
  • Klitschko arrives in Paris. He and Poroshenko have meeting with Hollande at 3.30pm via @ronzheimer http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BiIN-BYIUAABvpl.jpg

  • Analysis: Will the Yalta rules apply to the Crimea crisis?

    by Tony Karon

    The key players in the Ukraine standoff all say they’re ready to negotiate a solution, but they can’t agree over the terms on which the crisis will be resolved. The White House said Friday that President Barack Obama in a phone call with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had reiterated his demand that Russia withdraw troops from Crimea and negotiate directly with the new government in Kiev, while his administration has imposed limited sanctions on individuals deemed to be involved in Russia’s intervention. But Putin shows no inclination to heed those demands, and he refuses to recognize a government created through street protests which Moscow says is not representative of all Ukrainians. Russian troops have, instead, strengthened their grip on the Crimean peninsula, while the region’s parliament has called a March 16 referendum on seceding from Ukraine and reuniting the peninsula with Russia – a plan denounced Friday by the U.S. and the European Union.

    The Ukrainian city whose history may be most predictive of the terms on which the current standoff will be resolved may not be Kiev or Donetsk, Simferopol or Sevastopol. It may, in fact, be Yalta. It was in that Crimean resort city that Winston Churchill, Frenklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin in February 1945 effectively divided postwar Europe into rival “spheres of influence” in which the allies tacitly acknowledged one another’s extra-territorial prerogatives. And the principles that shaped the Yalta outcome may also determine the political solution to today’s Crimea crisis.

    The key principle in play at Yalta — and throughout the history of geopolitical parlay — was that seats at the negotiating table and the shape of what was agreed there was determined not by the strength of moral claims, but by the balance of real leverage among key players.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • Our colleagues at Al Jazeera English sat down with Crimean prime minister Sergey Aksyonov. Here's what he told them: 

    There is a lot of tension, most people are worried about the results of the referendum. There are many forces that would like the referendum not to happen, and considering the geopolitical situation we decided the sooner we are done with this vote the quieter it will be and people will feel safer. 


    This is an all-Crimean referendum and will be held only in Crimea.
    We feel that only people who live in Crimea can decide. Only they can make the decision about their territory, its taxes and economic situation.
     

    We accept the help people coming from Russia to join our self-defense units. We do not check their registration or where they come from. Some of them are retired military officers from Russia: they have their uniform and guns and they just come and join us. Besides the self-defense units, some of the police officers in Berkut  have taken the side of Crimean government.. The Black Sea fleet coordinates our troops and police that are around vital installations, no more than that. In terms of occupation or invasion, there is no Russian army.


    Former President Yanukovych is not a wanted man in Crimea. He can come as a private citizen, but nevertheless he is not our leader, or an icon. Legally, he is still the president of Ukraine. His mistakes forced him to leave Ukraine and now he has no influence on the country, or on us or on anybody else. He cannot come here in any government official capacity and he will have a no role here in Crimea


  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told Secretary Kerry that US sanctions against Moscow over the Ukraine crisis would "hit the United States like a boomerang," the Russian foreign ministry tells Reuters.

    In a call with Kerry, Lavrov warned the United States against "hasty and reckless steps" that could harm Russian-American relations.
  • Putin's spokesman tells Interfax that the Kremlin fears ethnic cleansing if those behind the overthrow of the Ukrainian government in Kiev reach Crimea or eastern Ukraine, Reuters reports.
  • Russian President Putin's spokesman tells Reuters that calls for Russia to start talks with Ukraine under Western mediation "make us smile."
  • McFaul: Once referendum happens, will create 'very sticky facts on the ground.' #Ukraine #Crimea
  • McFaul: Need presidential phone calls, 'to be engaged with the one person' who can change things.
  • McFaul on what would make Putin withdraw: It will have to be something whereby he can say that by his actions he achieved a better outcome
  • McFaul: 'This was an impulsive move' by Putin to stop Ukraine from leaving Russian fold.
  • McFaul: Putin's most imp FP objective was eurasian economic union as counter to EU. Critical to success of that was to have Ukraine in it
  • McFaul: "This was not some premeditated move by Putin to fulfill his grand strategy dominating that part of the world." #Russia #Ukraine
  • Michael McFaul, who until recently was US ambo to #Russia , is doing a media briefing. Before that, he did Russia/Eurasian affairs at NSC.
  • According to RIA, Russian President Putin's spokesman says that despite the deep differences with the West over Ukraine, Putin hopes common ground will be found and there will be no new Cold War, Reuters reports.
  • The Daily Beast is taking a look at what it calls "Britain's cowardice in standing up to Vladimir Putin."

    The reason, according to The Daily Beast? Russian money. 

    From The Daily Beast:

    Two of Britain’s finer Russia-obsessed journalists, Ben Judah and Oliver Bullough, have dealt admirably with why London has all of a sudden gone wobbly on Putinist aggression in Europe. The flow of Moscow gold to the sceptr’d isle, they argue, has now become so steady, so dependable and so relied-upon that no act of geopolitical thuggery can ever again lead to a Churchillian showdown with the Kremlin.


    The Cold War may be over in the Western imagination for a number of reasons, but the triumph of cold hard cash is one of them. Russians have bought nearly five percent of the premium London properties in 2013. They’ve kept the tills full at Harrods during an “austerity” economy. They’ve sent their children to elite boarding schools and Oxbridge colleges, paying full tuition fees. And they’ve shoved their questionably-gotten gains into British tax shelters or financial institutions. In return, the political establishment, be it Labour or Tory, has only asked for more.


    Old, numerous and bipartisan are the tales that corroborate this dreary hypothesis. At meetings with his Russian counterpart, David Cameron is said to politely cough about the ongoing carnage in Syria before getting down to the real business of greater Anglo-Russian trade and energy cooperation. And wasn’t Cameron’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, once spotted dining aboard the Corfu-anchored “super-yacht” belonging to Oleg Deripaska, the billionaire Russian aluminum magnate who was allegedly considering ways to donate to the Conservative Party even though donations by foreigners are illegal under British electoral law?  The then-Shadow Chancellor of course denied that any chatter about creative campaign financing ever took place. But also aboard Deripaska’s Queen K was Lord Peter Mandelson, a serially-employed Blairite then inhabiting his role as the European Commissioner for Trade. He was reportedly chatting with the oligarch about relaxing E.U. aluminum tariffs. Mandelson refused to flat-out deny that that discussion took place, preferring instead to focus on the “media squalls” and “sensationalist headlines,” but in any event, the tariffs did get lowered, and Deripaska’s metals empire Rusal benefited from looser trade with the E.U. Did I mention that the man to put both Tory and Labour Brits on the mega-yacht was a Rothschild, and that Deripaska’s registered lobbyist in the United States to help with a sticky visa situation has been Russian Foreign Minister 


  • In an interesting twist to the crisis in Ukraine, Forbes magazine's Ukrainian edition is involved in a corruption scandal, according to BuzzFeed.

    From BuzzFeed:

    Forbes magazine’s Ukrainian edition is embroiled in fresh controversy after Ukrainian police and the European Union moved against its fugitive owner on suspicion of stealing more than $1 billion from state coffers. The scandal around 28-year-old oligarch Sergey Kurchenko may stretch as far as the U.S. and Forbes family scion Miguel Forbes, who approved Kurchenko’s controversial purchase of the magazine’s Ukrainian edition last summer and signed on as an informal business adviser.


    Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s acting interior minister, announced 11 criminal investigations Thursday into the VETEK group and Kurchenko, its secretive owner, for importing and “re-exporting” oil in violation of tax and customs regulations. Two other investigations allege that VETEK defrauded state gas company Naftogaz, andcharge a company owned by a former driver reportedly linked to Kurchenko with not paying for gas. The total sum that police accuse Kurchenko and his alleged affiliates of stealing totals about 10 billion hryvnias (more than $1 billion).


    Kurchenko released a statement Thursday through VETEK expressing his “surprise” at the sanctions and denying the allegations against him.


    “I am an honest Ukrainian businessman who has always invested in Ukraine and practically all my business is concentrated here,” Kurchenko said. He accused rival oligarchs and their political lackeys of concocting the corruption allegations against him and claimed that no criminal charges had ever been filed against him or his company, apparently unaware of Avakov’s allegations. “And I am certain that the misunderstanding that has arisen will be resettled.


    Kurchenko, considered a key member of the mafia-like “family” around ousted president Viktor Yanukovych, also appeared on an European Union sanctions listThursday for “involvement in crimes in connection with the embezzlement of Ukrainian State funds and their illegal transfer outside Ukraine.” The sanctions also hit 16 other former senior officials including Yanukovych and former prime minister Mykola Azarov, as well as their respective sons.


  • The International Monetary Fund mission to Ukraine is "progressing well" and Ukrainian authorities are committed to economic reforms, a senior IMF official said on Friday after a visit to the country.

    Reza Moghadam, the director of the IMF's European Department, visited Kiev as part of the Fund's fact-finding mission to study Ukraine's finances. Ukrainian officials say they are close to bankruptcy and have asked for international aid.

    "I am positively impressed with the authorities' determination, sense of responsibility and commitment to an agenda of economic reform and transparency," Moghadam said in a statement.

    The IMF is looking for signs Ukraine's new leaders are more committed to reforms than their predecessors. Several IMF bailouts for Ukraine went off track after previous governments failed to follow through on reform pledges.

    Moghadam added the IMF "stands ready" to help Ukraine and put its economy on a path of sustainable growth.

    Ukraine's government coffers have been depleted by huge debt repayments, efforts to protect its currency and high energy costs. The country is also struggling to cope with a crisis in Crimea, where the parliament voted on Thursday to join Russia.

    Support from the Washington-based IMF is seen as critical to shore up Ukraine's collapsing finances and get its economy on the right track. The United States and European Union say they are willing to provide funds alongside an IMF program. Russia also supports the Fund's involvement.

    Ukraine's finance minister said he hoped the IMF would work on an aid package of at least $15 billion. That figure would be in line with the IMF's last loan to Ukraine in 2010, which was
    frozen a year later after Kiev failed to implement the required reforms, including removing gas price subsidies.

    [Reuters]

  • People hold a rally near the Kremlin walls in central Moscow in support of the people of Crimea on March 7, 2014 (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)


  • #Ukraine 's UN mission says will request new emergency UN Security Council meeting on Saturday on #Crimea crisis, no time yet - @reuters

  • From left to right: Ukraine's opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko, French President Francois Hollande, Petro Poroshenko — a member of Ukraine's parliament — and French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy pose before a meeting in Paris on March 7, 2014 (Charles Platiau/Reuters)


  • Military assessment visitors from OSCE States denied entry into Crimea on Friday, heading back to Kherson to plan next steps #Ukraine

  • People hold an anti-war protest in central Moscow on March 7, 2014 (Tatyana Makeyeva/Reuters)


  • US-Russia relations ‘paramount’ says Putin, but Crimea sees more troops

    Russia and the U.S. are still stuck in a stalemate on Ukraine but relations between the two countries should not be sacrificed because of their differences, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday after a phone call with President Barack Obama, the same day Ukrainian border guards said the number of Russian troops occupying Crimea had doubled to 30,000.

    During the Thursday night telephone call the U.S. leader urged his Russian counterpart to engage with diplomatic efforts to defuse a crisis that began with anti-government protests in November and this week escalated with a threat of secession in the strategically-important peninsula of Crimea after armed men seized government buildings and military installations.

    "Russia cannot ignore calls for help in this matter and it acts accordingly, in full compliance with the international law," a statement from Putin issued by the Kremlin read. "(Putin) stressed the paramount importance of Russian-American relations to ensure stability and security in the world.”

    Obama called Russia's involvement in Crimea "an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

    It was the leaders' second call in six days regarding the deteriorating political situation in Ukraine.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • IMF European Department Director Reza Moghadam released the following statement on his visit to Ukraine:

    "During my visit to Kyiv on March 6-7, I had productive discussions with the Prime Minister and his economic team. I am positively impressed with the authorities' determination, sense of responsibility and commitment to an agenda of economic reform and transparency. The IMF stands ready to help the people of Ukraine and support the authorities' economic program to put Ukraine firmly on the path of good economic governance and sustainable growth while protecting the poor and vulnerable.


    "Our fact-finding mission that has been working in Kyiv from March 4 is progressing well. The mission is developing a good understanding of the extent to which imbalances need to be corrected to stabilize the economy. This will guide the mission's recommendations to the IMF management on the subsequent course of action. We will continue to consult with all key stakeholders."



    During his visit to Kyiv, Mr. Moghadam met with Acting President and Speaker of Verhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine Stepan Kubiv, Minister of Finance Oleksandr Shlapak, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Pavlo Sheremeta and their senior colleagues.

  • OSCE spokesperson says the team of observers from 23 OSCE countries are still at a checkpoint trying to get into Crimea. #Ukraine

  • A woman clears the floor after recent clashes between pro-Russian supporters and riot police at the regional administration headquarters in Donetsk on March 7, 2014 (Stringer/Reuters)


  • According to The Huffington Post, a CNN reporter in Crimea has been told to stop broadcasting.

    From HuffPost:

    A CNN journalist and her team in Crimea were told to stop broadcasting or they would be kicked out of their hotel there.


    CNN correspondent Anna Coren spoke to Anderson Cooper Thursday night and told him that, in a very "bizzarre" and "unusual" situation, her news team was told by hotel management to "stop broadcasting or we'll kick you out."


    "Just a couple of hours ago the management of our hotel where we've been staying now for over a week, we've got a team here, told us we basically had to shut down our operation or we'd be kicked out," Coren said. "We asked for the reason, they didn't give us one."


    Several networks have sent correspondents to cover the crisis in the Ukraine afterRussian troops invaded Crimea over the weekend. Anderson Cooper himselfreported live from Kiev this week while NBC News, Fox News, ABC News and CBS News also sent correspondents to cover the conflict.


    Corren told Cooper that she has a strong feeling that the hotel management was "getting pressure" from militia or the new Crimean government. She said that if news outlets are not sending a pro-Russian message, "they don't want to hear it."


  • #osce observers just passed Ukrainian checkpoint at Azov Sea
  • Another emergency @OSCE Permanent Council meeting on #Ukraine -- Swiss chair: States must deploy special OSCE monitoring mission ASAP.
  • "What's required here is leadership" - HFAC Chairman and Strategic Genius Rep. Ed Royce speaking on CNN about Ukraine
  • #UK has withdrawn royal and ministerial visits to the #Sochi Paralympic games #Ukraine
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