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Ukraine Crisis

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

  • According to RIA, Russian parliament speaker Naryshkin says there is no need yet to send armed forces to Ukraine, Reuters reports.
  • UN sec council to meet again on #ukraine at 1530 EST
  • The New York Times editorial board blasted Putin's aggression in Crimea this morning:

    There was a lot to criticize about the way President Viktor Yanukovych’s government was thrown out in Ukraine and hurriedly replaced with an interim team. The victorious opposition should have known how critical it was to reassure all groups in that country that their rights would be respected in any new order; instead, one of the Parliament’s first actions was to abolish a law that ensured a legal status for Russian and other minority languages, thus raising fears among Russian speakers that Ukrainian nationalists were taking over.

    Yet none of this justifies Vladimir Putin’s cynical and outrageous exploitation of the Ukrainian crisis to seize control of Crimea, nor any other power grab he may be hatching. The United States and the European Union have few effective levers short of military force, which is not an option, to compel President Putin of Russia to back down, but they must make clear to him that he has stepped far outside the bounds of civilized behavior, and that this carries a steep price in international standing and in economic relations. Whatever else they do, the Western powers must provide prompt and substantial assistance to the Kiev government, whose treasury was left bare by Mr. Yanukovych.

    Mr. Putin’s claim of an immediate threat to Ukrainian Russians is empty. There were some scuffles in the industrial cities where Russians predominate, but nowhere were Russian speakers or Russian interests seriously threatened — certainly not in Crimea, where Russians are the majority and the Russian Federation has military bases. If anything, Ukrainians there were in danger. And if the Parliament in Kiev was for the moment on a nationalist high, new presidential elections are not far off, and there are plenty of peaceful ways for Mr. Putin to make Russia’s legitimate concerns and national interests clear to the interim rulers.

    Mr. Yanukovych fled knowing full well that he would not last long given the public fury over the killings in Kiev’s Independence Square and the shock that would follow once the full scope of his thievery became public. If he thought he had a shred of credibility left, he should have stayed and faced the music. Mr. Putin knows this; his defense of the ousted government is a pretext to tighten Russian control over Crimea, buttress his claims to special rights over what he calls Russia’s “near abroad,” and to humiliate Ukraine, the way he humiliated Georgia in 2008, for looking wistfully westward.


    Read more at the New York Times
  • In a statement from its foreign ministry, Russia says NATO's criticism of Russia's actions in Crimea "will not help stabilize" the situation in Ukraine.

    [Reuters]
  • According to Interfax, Russian Prime Minister Medvedev and United States Vice President Biden discuss the crisis in Ukraine by telephone, Reuters reports.
  • Russia's Black Sea Fleet has told Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender by 5 a.m. on Tuesday or face a military assault, Interfax news agency quoted a source in the Ukrainian Defence Ministry as saying.

    The ultimatum, Interfax said, was issued by Alexander Vitko, the fleet's commander.

    The ministry did not immediately confirm the report and there was no immediate comment by the Black Sea Fleet, which has a base in Crimea, where Russian forces are in control.

    "If they do not surrender before 5 a.m. tomorrow, a real assault will be started against units and divisions of the armed forces across Crimea," the agency quoted the ministry source as saying.

    [Reuters]



    The headquarters of the Ukrainian navy in Sevastopol also confirmed by telephone to Al Jazeera the ultimatum from Russian forces.
  • According to a draft statement, EU foreign ministers agree to suspend talks with Russia on visa issues because of the crisis in Ukraine, according to Reuters.
  • Interfax is quoting a Ukrainian defense ministry source as saying the Russian fleet has given Ukrainian forces in Crimea until 0300 GMT to surrender or face a storm, according to Reuters.

  • People protesting against Russian troops in Ukraine gather outside an European Union emergency foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on March 3, 2014 (Yves Herman/Reuters) 


  • The Washington Post's editorial board has released a scathing editorial of President Obama's foreign policy, saying it is 'based on fantasy.'

    From the Post:

    FOR FIVE YEARS, President Obama has led a foreign policy based more on how he thinks the world should operate than on reality. It was a world in which “the tide of war is receding” and the United States could, without much risk, radically reduce the size of its armed forces. Other leaders, in this vision, would behave rationally and in the interest of their people and the world. Invasions, brute force, great-power games and shifting alliances — these were things of the past. Secretary of State John F. Kerry displayed this mindset on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday when he said, of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, “It’s a 19th century act in the 21st century.”

    That’s a nice thought, and we all know what he means. A country’s standing is no longer measured in throw-weight or battalions. The world is too interconnected to break into blocs. A small country that plugs into cyberspace can deliver more prosperity to its people (think Singapore or Estonia) than a giant with natural resources and standing armies.

    Unfortunately, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not received the memo on 21st-century behavior. Neither has China’s president, Xi Jinping, who is engaging in gunboat diplomacy against Japan and the weaker nations of Southeast Asia. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is waging a very 20th-century war against his own people, sending helicopters to drop exploding barrels full of screws, nails and other shrapnel onto apartment buildings where families cower in basements. These men will not be deterred by the disapproval of their peers, the weight of world opinion or even disinvestment by Silicon Valley companies. They are concerned primarily with maintaining their holds on power.


  • Moscow on Monday sharply criticised Western members of the Group of Eight major industrialised nations for suspending preparations for a G8 summit scheduled to be held in the Russian city of Sochi in June over the crisis in Ukraine.

    The decision to suspend preparatory work for the summit in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi "has no grounds" and "damages not only the countries of the Group of Eight but also the whole international community," the Russian foreign ministry said.

    [Reuters]
  • #Ashton speaks to media ahead of #EU #FAC on #Ukraine . "We absolutely need to see a de-escalation of the situation" http://pbs.twimg.com/media/BhztuzOCIAAs0bq.jpg

  • The Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday that recent remarks by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry contained threats against Russia and were "unacceptable".

    Kerry on Sunday condemned what he called Russia's "incredible act of aggression" in Ukraine after Russian forces took control of the Crimea region and parliament gave President Vladimir Putin consent to send the military into Ukraine.

    [Reuters]
  • According to a statement from the Foreign Ministry, Russia says the G7 decision to suspend preparatory work on the G8 summit in Sochi has no grounds, Reuters reported Monday morning.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says recent statement by United States Secretary of State Kerry about Ukraine contain threats against Moscow and are 'unacceptable,' according to Reuters

  • A woman kisses a Ukrainian serviceman through the gate as he stands on the territory of a military unit located in the village of Lyubimovkanear, a local airfield some 50 miles southwest of Simferopol, Crimea's capital (Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters)


  • Asked checkpoint guy at airport base near Sevastopol about rumored 4pm ultimatum for Ukrainian troops. He said "maybe today, maybe tomorrow"
  • Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Monday Ukraine's new government planned to cut budget spending, and set out plans that would amount to a reduction of about 14 to 16 percent.

    He made his remarks in comments to businessmen as Ukraine prepares for talks with the International Monetary Fund on financial assistance to avert the danger of bankruptcy.

    [Reuters]
  • In addition to its effects on foreign relations and the situation on the ground in Ukraine, the crisis in the country is wreaking havoc on global markets, according to The Wall Street Journal: 

    The escalating Ukraine crisis rocked global financial markets Monday, driving up oil prices significantly and sending investors rushing into perceived safe-haven assets such as the yen, while they cut their exposure to stocks.

    In European trading, Russian markets saw the heaviest losses after Moscow authorized an increase in the number of troops present in Ukraine's Crimea region. The Russian ruble hit a record low against the dollar and euro, prompting the Bank of Russia to raise interest rates Monday. The benchmark Micex stock index slumped over 11%, with construction firm Mostotrest OAO and metals and mining company Mechel OAO leading the falls, both dropping well over 20%. Gazprom, which has a large weighting on the index, was down 14% while Sberbank was off 18%.

    "The first risks investors are getting out of are Ukrainian and Russian risks," said Paul Lambert, head of currencies at Insight Investment in London, which manages around $450 billion of assets.

    In Ukraine itself, the yield on its 10-year dollar-denominated bond was at 10.33%, having earlier leapt more than a percentage point from Friday's close to 10.53%. The yield on the dollar-denominated Ukrainian bond maturing in 2014 meanwhile surged by 17 percentage points to 43%, according to Tradeweb. Bond prices and yields move in opposite directions. Ukraine's currency, the hryvnia remains extremely weak and was most recently quoted at 10 against the dollar, around 22% weaker than where it started the year.

    "This uncertainty isn't likely to dissipate soon," said Rob Drijkoningen, co-head of emerging market debt at Neuberger Berman.

    "Ukraine faces some important economic problems—lack of growth, an overvalued currency, and dwindling foreign-exchange reserves—but given the latest developments, the new government's attention has been focused on dealing with Russia rather than fixing imbalances," added Mr. Drijkoningen.


  • POLITICO Magazine has an interesting, if not depressing, analysis on why Russia no longer fears the West and was comfortable taking steps toward invading Ukraine. 

    Essentially, it's all about the money, not the politics. And Russia knows it. 

    From POLITICO Magazine:

    Putin’s inner circle no longer fear the European establishment. They once imagined them all in MI6. Now they know better. They have seen firsthand how obsequious Western aristocrats and corporate tycoons suddenly turn when their billions come into play. They now view them as hypocrites—the same European elites who help them hide their fortunes.

    Once Russia’s powerful listened when European embassies issued statements denouncing the baroque corruption of Russian state companies. But no more. Because they know full well it is European bankers, businessmen and lawyers who do the dirty work for them placing the proceeds of corruption in hideouts from the Dutch Antilles to the British Virgin Islands.

    We are not talking big money. But very big money. None other than Putin’s Central Bank has estimated that two thirds of the $56 billion exiting Russia in 2012 might be traceable to illegal activities. Crimes like kickbacks, drug money or tax fraud. This is the money that posh English bankers are rolling out the red carpet for in London.

    Behind European corruption, Russia sees American weakness. The Kremlin does not believe European countries – with the exception of Germany – are truly independent of the United States. They see them as client states that Washington could force now, as it once did in the Cold War, not to do such business with the Kremlin.

    When Russia sees Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal outbidding each other to be Russia’s best business partner inside the EU (in return for no mention of human rights), they see America’s control over Europe slowly dissolving.

    Back in Moscow, Russia’s hears American weakness out of Embassy Moscow. Once upon a time the Kremlin feared a foreign adventure might trigger Cold War economic sanctions where it hurts: export bans on key parts for its oil industry, even being cut out of its access to the Western banking sector. No more.

    Russia sees an America distracted: Putin’s Ukrainian gambit was a shock to the U.S. foreign policy establishment. They prefer talking about China, or participating in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Russia sees an America vulnerable: in Afghanistan, in Syria and on Iran—a United States that desperately needs Russian support to continue shipping its supplies, host any peace conference or enforce its sanctions.


  • According to the Kyiv Post, ousted Ukrainian President Yanukovich and up to 19 other former officials are facing asset freezes from some European countries. 

    From the Kyiv Post:

    At the request of Ukrainian authorities, on Feb. 28 Switzerland, Lichtenstein, and European Union-member Austria imposed financial sanctions on up to 20 members of Ukraine’s ousted government, including Yanukovych and his older son Oleksandr Yanukovych.

    Canada and the U.S. have already enacted visa-travel bans for individuals deemed responsible for the violence in Kyiv during which 95 people died as a result of clashes between protesters and police in the last three months. Due to privacy laws in the countries, the identities of those who face travel bans are unknown.

    The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network  furthermore on Feb. 24 released an advisory to financial institutions reminding them “to take reasonable, risk-based steps regarding the potential suspicious movement of assets related to (former President) Viktor Yanukuvych departing Kyiv and abdicating his responsibilities…are required to apply enhanced scrutiny to private banking accounts held by or on behalf of senior foreign political figures and to monitor transactions that could potentially represent misappropriated or diverted state assets, the proceeds of bribery or other illegal payments, or other public corruption proceeds.”

    Austria’s Financial Market Authority has issued a similar advisory on suspicious banking activity related to some of Ukraine’s former government officials.

    Meanwhile, Switzerland and Lichtenstein have frozen the assets and bank accounts of 20 of the same individuals. Austria said it would freeze the bank accounts of 18 Ukrainians as a precautionary measure until the European Union’s sanctions enter into force, Reuters reported.



  • Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk warned on Monday that a military conflict in his east European country would threaten the stability of the whole region.

    He also denied the new government installed after the removal of President Viktor Yanukovich would nationalize private business.

    "I was and am a supporter of a diplomatic solution to the crisis, as a conflict would destroy the foundations for stability in the whole region," Yatseniuk said at a meeting with

    businessmen.

    He reiterated that the government would be ready to meet any conditions set by the International Monetary Fund to secure financial assistance.

    [Reuters]

  •  Ukrainian servicemen stand guard on the territory of their military unit located in the village of Lyubimovka near a local airfield, some 50 miles southeast of Simferopol, Crimea's capital, on March 3, 2014 (Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters)


  • Tense situation in Bakhchisarai between local govt and Ukrainian army refusing to give up. Also Tatars around shouting at local govt guy.
  • Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has said a conflict in the country would destroy regional stability, according to Reuters.

    The prime minister also said the new government has no intention of nationalizing private companies, Reuters reported Monday morning.
  • Russia's stock market dropped about 10 percent on Monday and its currency fell to its lowest point ever against the dollar and the euro as worries grew over the potential economic repercussions of the crisis in neighboring Ukraine.

    Russia intervened over the weekend to take control of Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula with strategic importance, and the new government in Kiev fears a wider invasion. The West responded by questioning Russia's membership in the Group of Eight leading industrialized democracies, and the U.S. threatened possible asset freezes and trade penalties.

    The Moscow Exchange fell about 10 percent in the first hour of trading Monday, although it later recovered slightly.

    The ruble, already down nearly 10 percent this year, fell below 50 to the euro for the first time. It traded at 36.89 rubles to the dollar, also a record, before stabilizing around 36.49.

    The Bank of Russia decided to temporarily increase the Bank of Russia key rate by 1.5 percentage points to 7 percent in an attempt to keep the currency's fall from driving up inflation. The central bank will hold its next meeting on March 14.

    [The Associated Press]
  • Pro-Russian demonstrators occupied the first floor of the regional government building in east Ukraine's city of Donetsk on Monday.

    A Reuters reporter in a press center on the fourth floor of the building said the protesters had seized the first floor but were unable to go higher because lifts were disabled and stairwell doors shut.

    The 11-storey building has been flying the Russian flag, rather than the Ukrainian flag, for three days, with demonstrators carrying Russian flags staging rallies outside.

    [Reuters]
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke Monday at the High-Level segment of the 25th Session of the United Nations Human Rights in Geneva. While his speech didn't focus solely on Ukraine, the prominent Russian diplomat made the crisis a main thrust of his remarks.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has provided a preliminary translation of his speech:

    Mr. Chairman,


    Last year, Russia was re-elected to the UN Council on Human Rights. Thank you for the support of all those who have given us their vote.Consider it as a recognition of the constructive contribution of our country to multilateral cooperation.


    Human rights issues are nominated in the category of priorities on the international agenda in circumstances where in the world development continues unabated factors of instability, expanding space risks and conflicts in various regions. To a large extent, these processes are related to the ongoing formation of a new polycentric world order. Russia consistently comes from the fact that in a period of profound change is necessary to do everything possible to ensure in practice the rights and freedoms of the individual, respect for human dignity.


    Human rights - the question is too serious to do it "bargaining chip" in the geopolitical "games", used to impose its will on others, and even more so - to carry out operations on changing modes. All experience shows that intervention under the pretext of protecting the civilian population, in fact, lead to a change of regime, gives the opposite result, multiplies the suffering of civilians, depriving them of their basic human right - the right to life.


    Any internal crises must be overcome through dialogue between all political forces, ethnic and religious groups, in line with constitutional and international obligations with respect, including - and last but not least - the obligations under international humanitarian law, human rights and minority rights. In this case it is essential decisively dissociate itself from extremists who are trying to bring the situation under control by illegal means, without shunning violence and open terror.


    Stated approaches to conflict resolution applicable to Syria, and Ukraine, and to any other country.


    It is well known who and how created a crisis in Ukraine. Is challenging the legitimacy of legal authorities, some of our partners have embarked on the support of anti-government protests, encouraged participants who switched to aggressive military actions. Grips and arson committed administrative buildings, attacks on police, looting weapons warehouses, bullying officials in the regions gross interference in the affairs of the church. Center of the city and many cities in western Ukraine had been seized by armed radical nationalists under the extremist, anti-Russian and anti-Semitic slogans.


    February 21 - almost three months of unrest and lawlessness - an agreement was reached between the President of Ukraine and the opposition, which was signed by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Germany, Poland and France. Authorities abandoned the state of emergency, removed from the streets of the law enforcement agencies.The opposition has not fulfilled anything. Illegal weapons were not surrendered, public buildings and streets of Kiev are not fully released, radicals continue to control the city. Instead of the promised creation of a national unity government was announced the formation of "the government of the winners."


    The Verkhovna Rada adopted decisions limiting the rights of linguistic minorities, sacked judges of the Constitutional Court and insists initiated against them criminal cases.It is demanded to limit, or even make use of the Russian language punishable prohibit objectionable political parties hold lustration. That is, the "winners" are going to enjoy the fruits of their "victory" for an attack on the fundamental rights and freedoms.


    All this has caused outrage in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, where millions of Russian, not wanting a repeat at such a scenario. In a situation of constant threats of violence by ultra-endangering life and the legitimate interests of all Russians and Russian-speaking population, were created national self-defense units, which already had the power to prevent attempts to capture administrative buildings in the Crimea peninsula and import of arms and ammunition. Receives information about preparing new provocations, including against the Russian Black Sea Fleet on Ukrainian territory.


    In such circumstances, legitimately elected government of the Autonomous Republic addressed to the President of Russia to assist in the restoration of peace in the Crimea.


    In full accordance with Russian law, in connection with the extraordinary situation in Ukraine, the Russian threat to the lives of citizens of our compatriots, the personnel of Russian Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine Russian president made an appeal to the Federal Council on the use of the Armed Forces of Russia in Ukraine until normalization of the the political situation in this country.


    The Federation Council has supported treatment that hopefully sober radicals. I repeat, we are talking about protecting our citizens and compatriots on the protection of the basic human right - the right to life.


    Those who are trying to interpret the situation almost as aggression, threatening all sorts of sanctions and boycotts - they are the same of our partners who consistently and persistently encouraged political forces close to them ultimatums and rejection of dialogue, to ignore the concerns of the south and east of Ukraine and finally - to the polarization of Ukrainian society. Call show a responsible approach to set aside geopolitical calculations and put above all the interests of the Ukrainian people. Necessary to ensure compliance with the obligations set out in the Agreement of 21 February, including the beginning of the process of constitutional reform with the participation and full view of all regions of Ukraine for the subsequent approval in a national referendum.


    Real progress in the international community in the field of human rights can only be achieved on the basis of equal partnership, mutually respectful dialogue, the strengthening of trust between States. On them as a guarantee of legality in their territories have the primary responsibility for ensuring human rights.


    In order to be effective, concerted efforts to promote and protect human rights should be conducted in strict compliance with the universally recognized norms and principles of international law, especially - of the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other fundamental documents adopted within the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe.


    At the same time, no country or group of countries do not have sole authority to unilaterally create some new "rules of conduct" that do not rely on a universal basis.Imposing their own interpretations of other rights-based standards can only exacerbate the intercultural and inter-religious conflicts, risks provoking a clash of civilizations, and undermine efforts to create a sustainable system of global development.


    Recently, a number of states and sometimes quite dramatically intensified aggressive supporters ultra-liberal approach, advocating permissiveness and hedonism, requiring revision of moral and ethical values that are common to all the world's religions. Such actions are destructive to society, it is detrimental to the education of the younger generation. Children should be protected from information harmful to their psyche and degrading. I would like to recall in this connection that the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provide for legislative restrictions on rights and freedoms in order to protect public health or morals, public order and security.


    Advocating the consideration of cultural and historical features of the various peoples, note the importance of the resolution of the Council for Human Rights, which affirms that a deeper understanding and respect for traditional values contributes to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.


    In the future work of the Council consider important goal to ensure attention to all categories of rights - civil, political, economic, social and cultural as well as the right to development.


    Believe it is necessary to strengthen and develop the legal framework in the field of human rights. To this end, introduced the current session of the Council a draft resolution entitled "The integrity of the judicial system" and look forward to his support.


    The rapid development of information and communication technologies requires close attention to the consequences of the almost unlimited possibilities of access to and sharing of information. Recently revealed the facts raise serious questions, in particular, of the proportionality security tasks scale intervention in people's private lives and the degree of state control over the media.


    Theme of human rights within the Internet should be seen not only in the context of freedom of speech, but also in terms of compliance with other rights, including privacy and intellectual property rights. We expect that the adoption of General Assembly resolution 68/167 "The right to privacy in the digital age" will begin practical work on the harmonization of clear rules of conduct in this area.


    This year, the international community will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, and in the future - the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazism and the establishment of the Nuremberg Tribunal. These dates serve as a reminder to how dire consequences can result belief in their own uniqueness, disdain for the basic norms of morality and law.


    We must firmly and collectively oppose attempts to justify and make heroes of the Nazis and their collaborators, profane monument to the liberators of Europe from the "brown plague". Widespread rejection of the world's hateful ideology manifested in support of the overwhelming majority of UN General Assembly Resolution 68/150 "Fight against the glorification of Nazism and other practices that contribute to fueling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."


    A week ago in Sochi the international community to oppose these shameful its commitment to the highest principles of the Olympic Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Athletes from 88 countries have given the world a holiday that showed openness to each other, the atmosphere of friendship, trust, tolerance, contributed to strengthening humanitarian ties.


    The concept of human rights laid powerful unifying potential. Dignity, freedom, justice, equality, tolerance of others are designed to foster mutual understanding and cooperation among nations and peoples in the interests of sustainable development and prosperity for all mankind.


  • Speaking on arrival at Foreign Affairs Council Catherine #Ashton says political measures & support for people of #Ukraine key #FAC #Crimea
  • Catherine #Ashton calls for de-escalation of #Ukraine crisis on arrival at #EU Extraordinary Foreign Affairs Council #FAC #Crimea
  • According to a Reuters witness, pro-Russian demonstrators are occupying the lower floors of the regional government building in east Ukraine's Donetsk, the news organization reports.

  • Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, walk outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 3, 2014 (Baz Ratner/Reuters) 


  • #Ukraine will always remain a very important economic partner for Russia. We must honour the obligations that were agreed to earlier
  • According to the Ukrainian defense ministry, Russian fighter jets violated Ukraine's air space during the night over the Black Sea, Reuters reported early Monday morning.

    According to the ministry, Ukrainian forces reportedly scrambled interceptor aircraft and prevented any 'provocative actions' during the two violations of Ukraine's air space.
  • Russia's military activities on Ukrainian soil are unacceptable but international diplomacy must prevail to solve the crisis, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Monday.

    "Crisis diplomacy is not a weakness but it will be more important than ever to not fall into the abyss of military escalation," Steinmeier told reporters ahead of an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

    Steinmeier suggested an fact-finding mission by the OSCE, Europe's main human rights and democracy watchdog, as an initial response. "We are considering whether it wouldn't make good sense to create transparency about what is happening on the ground in eastern Ukraine and Crimea instead of being dependent on rumours," he said.

    [Reuters]
  • Russia's Internet monitoring agency has blocked 13 Internet pages linked to the Ukraine protest movement that helped oust the country's Russia-leaning president last week.

    Roskomnadzor said in a statement published online Monday that it had been ordered by the general prosecutor's office to shut down the pages on Russia's leading social media website, VKontakte. The agency said the groups "propagandized the activity of Ukrainian nationalist groups," and accused them of encouraging "terrorist activity" and "participation in unsanctioned mass actions."

    The largest pro-demonstration group, which has more than 500,000 members, was not accessible to users on Russian territory on Monday.

    While much of Russian media is state-controlled, the Internet has so far remained largely free from censorship and has provided an active forum for anti-government criticism.

    [The Associated Press]
  • At @OSCE @ua_osce Ukrainian Amb Prokopchuk welcomes all #OSCE engagement in Ukraine including monitoring, elections, security, etc.
  • At @osce Russia repeats concerns abt security, minorities, in Ukraine-- OSCE monitoring is legitimate route to address. Ukraine has invited.
  • Standing room only at emergency permanent council meeting at @OSCE today. Asst Sec Nuland repping the US. #Ukraine
  • British Foreign Secretary William Hague is in Ukraine and released a series of tweets about his time in the crisis-torn country: 


    The most important item to note from Hague's visit so far is the monetary commitment he has promised Ukraine. 
  • Early Monday morning, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov called for the fulfillment of the Feb. 21 agreement on Ukraine, including constitutional reform and a referendum for all regions, according to Reuters.

    The same day, according to Interfax, Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatseniuk says his country will never give up Crimea to any, Reuters reported and German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman urged that it was not too late to solve the Ukrainian crisis by political means.
  • United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he will the Russian foreign minister to refrain from any acts or rhetoric that would further escalate the situation in Ukraine, according to Reuters.

    Ban reportedly says it is of the utmost importance to restore calm through dialogue, and he will urge Foreign Minister Lavrov to engage with Ukraine constructively and through peaceful means.

    The UN head also says his deputy Eliasson will convey the same message to the Ukrainian authorities in Kiev on Monday, Reuters reports.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov says action in Ukraine is a matter of defending Russian citizens and human rights, The Associated Press reports.
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