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Ukraine Crisis

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

  • State Dept: I don't have any time frame for you on sanctions, but we're looking at broad range of options. Individuals, etc. #Russia
  • If reports that Russia has threatened to use force against the Ukrainian military are true, it would be a dangerous escalation of the situation in Ukraine, the U.S. State Department said on Monday.

    "These reports today of threats of force against Ukrainian military installations would, if true, in our view constitute a dangerous escalation of the situation for which we would hold Russia directly responsible," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in a conference call.

  • In response to reports the Russians are threatening Ukraine's navy, the Obama administration called such a situation a 'dangerous escalation,' The Associated Press reported Monday afternoon. 

    From the AP:

    The Obama administration says any Russian threat to Ukraine's navy would be a "dangerous escalation" of an extremely tense situation.

    The State Department says Monday Washington would hold Moscow directly accountable for such an escalation but did not elaborate on potential consequences. But department spokeswoman Jen Psaki adds that she could not confirm if Russia had in fact made such threats.

    Earlier Monday, a Ukrainian military spokesman said Russia had issued an ultimatum to the crews of two Ukrainian warships in Crimea, demanding that they immediately surrender or be stormed and seized.

    Secretary of State John Kerry is leaving for Ukraine late Monday and then will travel to France and Italy. He had planned to see his Russian counterpart in Paris, but Psaki said that meeting was no longer certain.

  • The Polish foreign minister says European Union ministers meeting in Brussels have agreed to consider sanctions on Russia if it does not de-escalate the crisis in Crimea, according to Reuters.
  • State Dept: Engagement, inclusiveness over the long term is something we're encouraging w/interim #Ukraine govt, US helping to implement
  • State Dept: There's still an 'off ramp' for #Russia . Many ways to protect the interests of Russian ppl & that discussion is going on at OSCE
  • State Dept: Our goal is to encourage interim #Ukraine govt to be 'inclusive,' which they're doing, putting in economic reforms.
  • State Dept: We've been pretty clear that we believe Yanukovych lost his legitimacy when he fled during a political crisis. #Ukraine
  • The State Department announced the United States will put sanctions against Russia in place and is preparing that right now, according to Reuters, adding that the United States has a broad range of options available.
  • Ukraine's acting president says the size of Russian forces in Ukraine's Crimea region keeps growing, according to Reuters.

    The acting president also reportedly said the Russian Black Sea fleet has blocked Ukrainian navy vessels in Sevastopol bays.

    The acting president appealed to Russia to stop the aggression and piracy, according to Reuters, adding that the situation is difficult in the east and south Ukraine regions.
  • Opinion: Russia wins second Crimean war

    Last week’s theatrical crisis in Ukraine has quickly transformed itself into a restaging of the Crimean War of 1853-56, when Russia fought the Ottoman Empire and its European allies over control of the strategic peninsula that juts into the Black Sea. Only this time, light operatic moments are popping up in the repeat performance, as Washington has joined London and NATO to castigate Russia with pointed words but no hint of bayonets.

    “Russia has engaged in a military act of aggression against another country,” Secretary of State John Kerry declared.

    “The sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been violated,” UK Foreign Minister William Hague said.

    “I have convened the North Atlantic Council today because of Russia’s military action in Ukraine,” NATO Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen said, “and because of President (Vladimir) Putin’s threat against this sovereign nation.”

    These ominous words followed Russia’s decision to secure its Black Sea fleet at Sevastopol and to accede to the Crimean leadership’s request to restore “calm” in the region by deploying troops in the region.

    The government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is said to be preparing a referendum on declaring independence from Ukraine in the same manner that voters in Scotland and Catalonia are to decide on independence from their traditional states later this year. Russia engineered a similar diplomatic feat after the Georgia crisis of 2008, when South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia chose Russian allegiance.

    There is reportedly no resistance by local Ukrainian military units to Russian intervention. Crimea has named the former Ukrainian navy commander Rear Adm. Denis Berezovsky (whom Kiev condemns as a traitor) as the head of the newly born Crimean navy.

    In sum, Crimea is moving smoothly toward siding with the Russian Federation against the European Union and the United States. The Second Crimean War appears decided in Moscow’s favor without a shot fired and before Washington, London or Brussels can find novel modifiers of condemnation.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • State:If #Russia continues this path, we'll take steps. 'It's likely that we will put (sanctions) in place & we're preparing that right now'
  • State Dept declines to give US assessment of how many #Russia troops are in #Ukraine , other details: 'No ground-game military update.'
  • If reports of Russian threats to use force against Ukrainian military are true, this would be a dangerous escalation of the situation, the State Department said, according to Reuters.

    The State Department reportedly went on to say the United States would hold Russia directly responsible if it has threatened use of force against the Ukrainian military.
  • The Council of the European Union released a list of conclusions about the situation in Ukraine. Below are some of the most compelling: 

    The EU calls on Russia to immediately withdraw its armed forces to the areas of their permanent stationing, in accordance with the Agreement on the Status and Conditions of  the Black Sea Fleet stationing on the territory of Ukraine of 1997. Russia should also without delay agree to the request by Ukraine to hold consultations, as foreseen in the bilateral Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Partnership of 1997, and to take part in urgent consultations among all signatories and adherents of the Budapest Memorandum of 1994. 

    The Council recalls the EU's ambitions and openness to a relationship with Russia based on mutual interest and respect and regrets that these common objectives have now been put in doubt. The EU and those Member States who are participants of G8, have decided for the time being to suspend their participation in activities associated with the preparations for the G8 Summit in Sochi in June, until the environment comes back where the G8 is able to have meaningful discussion. In the absence of de-escalating steps by Russia, the EU shall decide about consequences for bilateral relations between the EU and Russia, for instance suspending bilateral talks with Russia on visa matters as well as on the New Agreement, and will consider further targeted measures. The Council decides to remain permanently seized, in order to be in a position to take rapidly all necessary measures

    The European Union commends the measured response demonstrated so far by Ukraine. The European Union stands by the efforts of the new Ukrainian Government to stabilise the situation and pursue the course of reforms. The EU reaffirms the necessity of further constitutional reform in Ukraine and to hold free, fair and transparent Presidential elections with OSCE-ODIHR observation. The EU reaffirms the utmost importance of ensuring inclusiveness at all levels of government by the Ukrainian authorities, including through steps designed to reach out to all Ukrainian regions, population groups and to ensure full protection of national minorities in accordance with Ukraine’s international commitments. In this regard, it encourages Ukraine to draw on the expertise of the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

    Click here to read the full document
  • State Dept: No independent info on 0300 ultimatum for Crimea. But would constitute a 'dangerous escalation' & we'd hold #Russia responsible
  • State Dept: Nuland in Vienna today, talking about a monitoring mission for #ukraine . She repeats support for 'full-scale' OSCE mission
  • State Dept: In Kiev Kerry will see interim govt leaders, civil society ppl. He's going to discuss economic/political needs, what US can do
  • According to a statement, EU leaders to meet for extraordinary summit on March 6 in Brussels to discuss the situation in Ukraine, Reuters reports.
  • Catherine #Ashton We are firmly convinced that peaceful solution to current crisis is needed, in full respect of Intl law #FAC #Ukraine
  • Catherine #Ashton will meet #Russia Foreign Minister #Lavrov tomorrow. #Ukraine @mfa_russia
  • EU's Ashton says the European Union calls on Russia to withdraw troops to bases and hold consultations with Ukraine, according to Reuters.

    Ashton says she expects the European Union to convene a summit of leaders and heads of state this week to discuss Ukraine, the news organization reports.
  • According to U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, U.S. options for Russia over Ukraine include sanctions on Russian banks, freezing assets and imposing travel bans, Reuters reports.

    The U.S. Senate is reportedly considering authorizing sanctions against Russia over Ukraine but must work with Europe to be effective, according to Murphy.

  • An armed man, believed to be a Russian soldier, stands outside the civilian port in the Crimean town of Kerch on March 3, 2014 (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

  • Russia's Black Sea Fleet has not issued an ultimatum to Ukrainian forces in Crimea to surrender by 5 a.m. on Tuesday or face an assault, Interfax news agency quoted an official at the fleet's headquarters as saying.

    Russia's Black Sea Fleet has a base in Crimea and Moscow has effectively established control over the peninsula, which is part of Ukraine.

    Interfax quoted an unnamed source in the Ukrainian Defence Ministry earlier on Monday as saying a deadline to surrender at 0300 GMT had been set by the Black Sea Fleet's commander.

    The same news agency later quoted an unnamed representative at the fleet's headquarters as saying no assault was planned, adding: "This is complete nonsense."

  • According to a White House official, in his phone call with Russia's Medvedev, Vice President Biden made clear that Russia will face 'increasing political and economic isolation' if the situation in Ukraine is not resolved, Reuters reported Monday afternoon.
  • According to a European Union diplomat, European Union governments have agreed to consider 'targeted measures' against Russia if Moscow fails to de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, Reuters reports.
  • Despite what Russian Defense Ministry says, those of us who were there heard this ship deliver ultimatum to Slavutych

  • Nicholas Burns, fmr US ambassador to NATO: "We're not going to fight Putin for Ukraine. He knows it. There are no good US options." @ajam
  • According to Interfax, the Russian Black Sea fleet says it has no plans to launch an assault on Ukrainian military units in Crimea, Reuters reports.
  • UN Deputy Secretary General arrived in Kiev, will meet with interim president and acting foreign minister of #Ukraine tomorrow.
  • The White House has announced the United States will no longer send a presidential delegation to the upcoming Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi to protest the Ukraine situation, according to Reuters.
  • France's foreign minister warned Russia on Monday that if tensions did not ease in Ukraine's Crimea region, the European Union would consider "targeted measures" in response.

    "If there is not in the coming hours a very quick de-escalation, then we will decide concrete measures such as the suspension of all talks on visas, suspension of economic agreements and concretely that means that ties will be cut on lot of subjects," Laurent Fabius told BFM TV.

    "There could be targeted measures and that can also affect people, officials and their assets," he said, adding that EU leaders could hold a crisis meeting on the stand-off on Thursday.

    "The general tone is that the Russians appear to have decided to go even further. Europe must be firm."

  • Global stock markets are down sharply on tensions over Russia's military advance into Ukraine and the threat of sanctions by Western governments.

    The Dow Jones industrial average fell 202 points, or 1.2 percent, to 16,118 as of midday Monday.

    The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 20 points, or 1.1 percent, to 1,839. The S&P 500 closed at a record high Friday.

    The Nasdaq composite fell 54 points, or 1.3 percent, to 4,253.

    Russia's benchmark stock index plunged 12 percent. Stocks were also sharply lower in Europe. Germany's DAX fell the most, 3.4 percent.

    Gold and bond prices rose as investors shifted money into safer assets.

    The price of crude oil rose 2 percent to $104 a barrel as traders worried about disruptions of Russian oil exports.

    [The Associated Press]
  • The Dow Jones industrial average has dropped 200 points as tensions rise over the standoff in Ukraine, according to The Associated Press.
  • Russian perimeter outside navy armory in western Crimea, after Ukrainians refuse to give up control. #ukraine #maidan

  • Ukraine pleads for international support as Russia tightens grip on Crimea

    Ukrainian Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Monday stepped up pleas to the West for political and economic help, and said that Crimea – taken over by Russian forces during the weekend – remains part of his country. But he conceded that for Ukraine, military options are off the table for now.

    “Any attempt of Russia to grab Crimea will have no success at all. Give us some time,” Yatsenyuk said at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is visiting Kiev.

    “For today, no military options (are) on the table,” Yatsenyuk added, saying what his country urgently needs is economic and political support.

    Meanwhile, pro-Russia soldiers seemed to further cement their control over the strategic Crimean Peninsula – which hosts the Russian Black Sea Fleet under an agreement with Ukraine – by seizing a ferry terminal in the Ukrainian city of Kerch about 12 miles by sea from Russia, intensifying fears that Moscow will send even more troops into the peninsula. It comes as the U.S. and European governments are trying to figure out ways to halt and reverse the Russian incursion.

    The soldiers at the terminal refused to identify themselves Monday, but they spoke Russian, and the vehicles transporting them had Russian license plates.

    Russia has taken effective control of the Crimean Peninsula without firing a shot. Now, the fears in the Ukrainian capital and beyond are that Russia might seek to expand its control by seizing other parts of eastern Ukraine.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • The French foreign minister says if there is not a quick de-escalation of the situation in Crimea, there will be 'targeted measures,' according to Reuters.
  • As the crisis in Ukraine worsens, The Huffington Post has a round up of what the situation means for press freedom in Crimea.

    From HuffPost:

    Concerns about press freedom in Crimea are growing after an attack on the Crimean Center for Investigative Journalism in Simeropol over the weekend.

    A group of about 30 masked gunmen assumed to be Russian militia broke into the Crimean Center for Investigative Journalism on Saturday, the Global Investigative Journalism Network reported.

    The event was the latest in media censorship as Russian troops invade and take over the Crimea region in Ukraine. US officials announced Monday that Moscow has now taken “complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula.” Secretary of State John Kerry plans to fly to Kiev to try to prevent a Russian advance deeper into Ukraine.

    In Saturday's incident, armed men broke a window and forced their way into the Crimean Center's offices, according to the Global Investigative Journalism Network. The group took over the headquarters, after leader Konstantin Knyrik reportedly said that from “this building does not come true information."Journalists from the office said that they left unharmed, and also managed to back up their archives.

    “I am deeply concerned about the media freedom situation in Simferopol and the Crimean peninsula as a whole, following the current political developments in Ukraine,” the Representative on Freedom of the Media for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Dunja Mijatović said.

    The military balance of power between Russia and Ukraine/BBC 

    The BBC has an interesting graphic comparing the relative size of Russia and Ukraine's military forces. 

    "On the face of things if Russia were to move into eastern Ukraine then the Ukrainian forces should be able to put up a better performance than tiny Georgia's armed forces did when the Russians moved onto the offensive in 2008," writes BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus. "But in reality Ukraine's military is dispersed; it lacks readiness; and much of its equipment is in storage."

    Read more at the BBC.

  • Vice President Joe Biden spoke by phone Monday morning with Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev and the White House has provided a read out of the call:

    Readout of the Vice President’s Call with Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev

    Vice President Biden called Russian Prime Minister Dmitriy Medvedev this morning, following the Prime Minister’s discussion with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk over the weekend.  The Vice President urged Russia to pull back its forces, support the immediate deployment of international monitors to Ukraine, and begin a meaningful political dialogue with the Ukrainian government. 

  • The speaker of Russia's lower parliament house said on Monday that "for now, there is no need" to send the Russian armed forces into Ukraine.

    On Saturday, President Vladimir Putin secured the parliament's permission to use the military in Ukraine if he wishes, citing the need to protect Russians in the neighboring nation.

    "The decision ... only gives the right (to use the armed forces), which can be exercised in case of necessity; for now there is no need," State Duma speaker Sergei Naryshkin told the state-run Rossiya-24 television in an interview.

  • UN Security Council to hold meeting on #Ukraine at 3:30 pm NY time today. Meeting requested by #Russia . #UNSC

  • Pro-Russian demonstrators hold a rally outside the regional government building in Donetsk on March 3, 2014 (Valeriy Bilokryl/Reuters)

  • Crimean Tatars feel pressure from all sides

    by Sam Narod

    SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Ali Aliev was a 9-year-old when German troops occupied Crimea during World War II, and he still remembers the day he and others in his village in the southeastern Sudak region of the peninsula gathered in a schoolyard to wait for their liberators, the returning Soviets.

    There he learned that the indigenous Crimean Tatar population was being rounded up and sent away.

    “We didn’t know where, just somewhere,” he said, now in his 80s and living in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea.

    His people were loaded onto empty train carriages — women, children and elders crammed together. When the train stopped, the Soviets opened the doors, threw dead bodies over the side of the platform and restarted the train.

    After 22 days on board, Aliev ended up at a labor camp in the Ural region in the center of the USSR. This was Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s punishment for the Crimean Tatars, whom he accused of collaborating with the Nazi regime, despite the fact that many Tatar men had served in the Soviet army.

    Descendants of the Golden Horde of Genghis Khan, the Crimean Tatars are Turkic-speaking Muslims and the peninsula’s indigenous inhabitants. The Soviets left them scattered in labor camps across the barren steppes of Central Asia. Thought to number approximately 200,000 at the time, almost half the population died from hunger, thirst and disease in their first year of exile.

    “They threw us aside to exterminate us from the earth,” Aliev said. “But despite what we lived through, the people never forgot their homeland. We went to sleep at night dreaming of Crimea.”

    Read more at Al Jazeera America.
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