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Ukraine Crisis

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

  • President Putin says the Ukraine crisis may have a negative effect on the customs union comprising Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, according to Reuters. He calls for measures to protect exporters
  • FYI: NATO Sec-Gen @AndersFoghR and the interim Ukrainian PM will be talking to the press around 10:15 EST.
  • #OSCE in #Simferopol were confronted by granny rabble. But left safely by the back door.
  • Ukraine's new prime minister, in his first interview since taking office, told The Associated Press that Crimea must remain part of Ukraine, but may be granted more local powers.

    Arseniy Yatsenyuk told the AP Wednesday that a special task force could be established "to consider what kind of additional autonomy the Crimean Republic could get."

    The prime minister, approved by parliament on Feb. 27, denied a report that Ukraine was negotiating with the United States for deployment of U.S. missile defenses in exchange for financial help.

    "This is not true," Yatsenyuk told the AP. "We have no talks with the government of the United States of America on any kind of deployment of any military forces."

    [The Associated Press]
  • The Ukraine premier has told The Associated Press Crimea must remain in Ukraine, but it may get more autonomy, the news outlet reports.
  • BuzzFeed's Max Seddon takes a deep, somewhat troubling, dive into 'Vladimir Putin's paranoid vision.' 

    Analyzing the Russian leader's latest press conference, as well as his decisions up until this point, Seddon states Putin 'seemed to be broadcasting from Bizarro World when he spoke on the Ukraine crisis Tuesday.'

    More from Seddon:

    You wouldn’t catch Putin destabilizing the “brotherly peoples” of Ukraine with meddling like that. He hasn’t, according to him, even sent in any troops. The heavily armed men riding around in armored personnel carriers are just “local self-defense forces” with no connection to Russia, he said. Forget the Kalashnikovs and bazookas. They’re not wearing Russian uniforms, are they? Just go to your local shop and see for yourself. “The post-Soviet space is full of such uniforms,” Putin told the journalists gathered to hear him speak.

    Hearing this stream of consciousness from Putin for more than an hour — during which he bantered on the definition of revolution with a Reuters reporter, complained about how a Ukrainian oligarch had “swindled” a Russian oligarch out of billions, and openly mused about the death of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych (who made a point of insisting he was very much alive during his last public appearance) — makes you feel a little bit sorry for his Western interlocutors, who put up with long telephone rants from him over the weekend. Angela Merkel apparently now thinks he was “in another world,” according to theNew York Times. His insistence that he would only invade Ukraine “in line with international law” and with (very lengthy) views on Ukrainian constitutional procedure didn’t appear to impress Barack Obama.

    “I know President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations,” the U.S. president said Tuesday, “but I don’t think that’s fooling anybody.” Secretary of State John Kerry, in Kiev Tuesday to pat the new government on the back and stick his tongue out at the Kremlin, scoffed at every word Putin said: “Not a single piece of creditable evidence supports any one of those claims,” Kerry said.

    To an extent, Putin’s opponents in the West are right. Putin is living in a world of his own making. Right now, it doesn’t sound like a nice place to be. He is disingenuous about the legitimacy of Ukraine’s new government. He is paranoid that U.S. secret services are wreaking havoc on his turf. His pretext for invasion, which mostly centers around a Gulf of Tonkin-style “attack” on Crimea for which no evidence (bar an obviously fake video) even exists, is risible.

  • According to analysts who talked to The Associated Press, Russia is unlikely to pull back in Crimea.

    From the AP:

    But even with tough economic penalties, some regional analysts say it may already be too late to reverse course in Crimea.


    "The idea that there's a contest over Crimea is a little silly," said Matthew Rojansky, a Russia analyst at the Wilson Center, a think tank in Washington. "It's in Russian hands and it was always on the verge of being in Russian hands."


    Rojansky said the most pressing concern for the U.S. is instead to keep Putin from pushing into Russian-friendly areas of eastern Ukraine, where U.S. officials are warily eyeing ethnic skirmishes. Putin on Tuesday said he saw no reason for Russia to intervene there at the moment but added that he reserved the right to take that step if Russian speakers in the region were in danger.


    The Crimean peninsula is separated from the rest of Ukraine by geography, history and politics. It only became part of Ukraine when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave the peninsula to his native land in 1954, a transfer that hardly mattered until the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 and Crimea ended up in an independent Ukraine.


    Crimea's port city of Sevastopol is also home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet and its thousands of naval personnel. Yanukovych, the ousted Ukrainian president, extended the fleet's lease until 2042, but Russia fears that Ukraine's temporary pro-Western government could evict it.


    The U.S. is not calling for a full Russian withdrawal from Crimea, the Obama administration official said, but does want Moscow's forces to return to their normal operating position at their base, where they have an agreement with Ukraine to keep up to 11,000 troops. The official wasn't authorized to discuss the situation by name and would speak only on condition of anonymity.


    The situation in Crimea has drawn comparisons to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, two breakaway territories of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Russia has continued to maintain a military presence in both, violating a cease-fire that ended its 2008 military conflict with Georgia and ignoring repeated condemnations from the U.S. and Europe.


    Barry Pavel, who worked on the White House National Security Council under both Obama and President George W. Bush, said reasserting control of Crimea may be even more important to Russia than the Georgian territories.


    "Russian nationalists consider this to be practically Russian territory," said Pavel, who now serves as vice president of the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank. "The chances of Russian forces ever leaving where they are are very low."


  • Talks in Paris today are a test of whether Russian gov is prepared to sit down with #Ukraine gov. Test of its intentions
  • The European Commission released a rather detailed press release outlining its support for Ukraine. 

    From the release:

    Key elements of the package agreed today:

      • €3 billion from the EU budget in the coming years, €1.6 billion in macro financial assistance loans (MFA) and an assistance package of grants of €1.4 billion;

      • Up to €8 billion from the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development;

      • Potential €3.5 billion leveraged through the Neighbourhood Investment Facility;

      • Setting up of a donor coordination platform;

      • Provisional application of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area when Association Agreement is signed and, if need be, by autonomous frontloading of trade measures;

      • Organisation of a High Level Investment Forum/Task Force;

      • Modernisation of the Ukraine Gas Transit System and work on reverse flows, notably via Slovakia;

      • Acceleration of Visa Liberalisation Action Plan within the established framework; Offer of a Mobility Partnership;

      • Technical assistance on a number of areas from constitutional to judicial reform and preparation of elections.


    Click here to read the entire release
  • Secretary of State Kerry said Wednesday that the United States and United Kingdom failed to bring Russia and Ukraine together for a meeting in Paris, Reuters reports.

    However, the UK's Hague said they will make every effort to bring the Russian and Ukrainian ministers together later in the day, according to Reuters.
  • According to the European Union's Barroso, the European Union is ready to provide 11 billion euros of financial aid to Ukraine over the next couple of years, Reuters reports.
  • Opinion: The dangers of the Putin Doctrine

    In occupying Ukraine’s southernmost province, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Russian President Vladimir Putin has simultaneously invaded a neighboring country that poses no security threat to Russia, unilaterally declared that he has a carte blanche to invade any country with a Russian population and even invited rogue states to develop nuclear weapons.

    This new Putin Doctrine threatens to undermine the entire global order. His insistence that he is entitled to violate international law for the pursuit of his own ends is nothing less than a megalomaniacal claim that could, if implemented systematically, produce a world war.

    Putin justified his invasion of democratic Ukraine on two counts. First, he claimed that Russians were being threatened by Ukrainian extremists and that their lives were in danger. There is no shred of evidence of such a threat. Quite to the contrary, Ukraine’s Russians have repeatedly stated that they do not need Putin’s protection. Indeed, even Putin’s own Human Rights Council concluded on March 2 that there “were no victims and wounded among the civilian population and soldiers” of Crimea.

    Perhaps because the grounds for an intervention were preposterous, Russia then argued on March 3 that it intervened because Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s former president, requested that it do so. Russia continues to recognize Yanukovich, even though he lost all his legitimacy in the course of four years of mercilessly exploiting Ukraine and its population (the Ukrainian Treasury is empty, and the country is bankrupt, thanks to Yanukovich), committed crimes against humanity during the mass violence against the demonstrators in Kiev (almost 100 civilians were killed) and abandoned his office when he fled the country.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • Russian President Putin has said he wants smooth economic cooperation with 'all traditional partners' despite 'known political tension,' Reuters reported Wednesday.
  • Pro-Russian group block entrance to Ukr military base on Karl Marx St. In Simferopol. Just before attack on women. http://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bh9YdynIQAA5bJC.jpg

  • Lithuania has introduced national visa-ban for 18 #Ukrainian ex-officials suspected for HR violations&use of force.
  • Diplomats seek Ukraine crises solution

    Diplomats gathered in Paris on Wednesday in an effort to end the crises in Ukraine.

    The day before Russian President Vladimir Putin had said that his country reserved the right to use military force to protect Russians living in Ukraine but would do so only as a last resort.

    Breaking his silence on events in Ukraine since massive pro-Europe protests forced out Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovich last month, Putin skirted questions about Russian troops' taking control of Ukraine's Crimea, saying the armed men who seized buildings there over the past few days were local forces.

    Putin's remarks drew strong reactions from world leaders, who threatened sanctions if Russia maintained its foothold in Ukraine. The envoys from Russia, Ukraine, the U.S., Britain and France are not necessarily all at the same table, but French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said everyone has been working non-stop for a diplomatic solution over tensions in Ukraine.

    "We have a principle of firmness but at the same time of searching for dialogue," Fabius said as he stood alongside his Ukrainian counterpart, making his first trip abroad in the new post.

    Russia took over Crimea on Saturday, placing troops around its ferry, military bases and border posts.

    "Today the Ukrainian future will be decided," Andriy Deshchytsia, Ukraine's foreign minister, said of the meetings in Paris. "We want to keep neighborly relations with the Russian people. We want to settle this peacefully."

    Wednesday's gathering, originally scheduled to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, came after Putin appeared to step back from the brink of war, but the crisis is far from resolved.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • So Donetsk not moving in Crimea direction: pro-Russian protestors lost parliament, new governor has arrived, police starting to activate.

  • Secretary of State John Kerry(C) hosts the Budapest Memorandum Ministerial meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia (3rd R) and British Foreign Secretary William Hague (2nd L) at the U.S. Ambassador's Residence in Paris on March 5, 2014 (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)



  • Ukrainian navy soldiers raise their flag on top of the Ukrainian navycorvette Ternopil at the Crimean port of Sevastopol on March 5, 2014 (Baz Ratner/Reuters)


  • Have taken part in US-UK-Ukraine consultations on Budapest Memorandum. Strong unity there must be costs for Russia if they don't de-escalate
  • Appearing at a fundraiser Tuesday evening, President Obama spoke on the crisis in Ukraine. 

    From the White House transcript:

    A lot of the focus today and over the last several weeks has been on international affairs, and I’ll be happy to give you more details of what’s happening in Ukraine. 



    The essence of it is, is we have a country that has been in a difficult situation for quite some time, that had a President that was closely associated with the Russians, who a large segment of the Ukrainian population did not feel was representing them well, although he had been democratically elected.  You had a crisis inside of Ukraine as a consequence of his decision not to sign an agreement that would have oriented their economy a little more towards the West.  That got out of control and we got involved only to prevent initially from bloodshed occurring inside the country and succeeded in doing that.  But, ultimately, a deal that was brokered for a power-sharing arrangement in an election led to him fleeing and we now have a situation in which the Russians I think are engaging in a fundamental breach of international law in sending troops into the country to try to force the hands of the Ukrainian people.  We may be able to deescalate over the next several days and weeks, but it’s a serious situation and we’re spending a lot of time on it.


    In some ways, it reflects a broader trend around the world, which is authoritarian regimes, ineffective regimes -- corrupt regimes are in this age of social media -- having a much harder time clinging on to power.  At the same time, in many of these societies, you don’t have strong traditions of civil society and organization that allow orderly transfers of power, and that makes for an often chaotic situation.  And part of what we have to navigate -- not just this year or next year but for years to come, not just in the Middle East, but around the world -- is going to be our ability to help countries provide a voice for people who have previously been voiceless; to allow them to determine their own destiny, but to do it with some humility, recognizing that in each of these societies, we’re not going to be able to impose order.  We’re going to have to work with these communities and the international community on the basis of some core principles. 


     


    And the central principle is that each individual is worth something, means something -- their dreams, hopes, and aspirations matter -- and that they should have a voice in the direction of their lives and they should be able to, if they work hard, aspire to some semblance of security and prosperity.  And that’s obviously a reflection of who we are as Americans.  

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  • The European Union's Catherine Ashton will not be traveling to Kiev today as planned. Instead, she will be in Paris to take part in the meeting between Secretary of State Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. Thursday she will travel to Brussels to meet the Ukrainian prime minister.

    However, her office has said this is simply a postponement of her trip to Kiev, not a cancellation.
  • Ukraine on Wednesday raised its flag over the government headquarters in the eastern city of Donetsk where a Russian flag had stood since Saturday, witnesses said.

    Police said they were evacuating the building, which has been occupied since Monday by pro-Russian demonstrators. A police statement said the evacuation began after reports that the building was booby-trapped with explosives.

    Donetsk, home city of deposed president Viktor Yanukovich, is one of around a half dozen cities in eastern Ukraine that saw pro-Russian protests erupt on Saturday just as President Vladimir Putin was announcing that he had the right to invade.

    Demonstrators, led by a man who declared himself "people's governor", have been holed up in the regional administration building, demanding relations with Kiev be severed and control over the police and security forces be placed in their hands.

    Kiev accues Moscow of organising the protests and says many of the demonstrators are Russians bused across the border to create an excuse for military intervention.

    "A message was received at 8:30 (0630 GMT) from an unknown person that there is a grenade in the regional council building," said Olga Pochkalova, police spokeswoman. "An investigative-operational team is checking and people are being led out of the building."

    Witnesses said the Russian flag on the roof of the 11-storey building was replaced with a Ukrainian flag, but another Russian flag was still flying from a flagpole in front.

    [Reuters]
  • According to a top Ukraine security official, fewer incidents were reported in Crimea overnight, Reuters reported Wednesday morning. The security official hopes a way will bd found in the coming days to resolve the situation through talks.
  • Ukraine's foreign minister said on Wednesday he wanted to press for a peaceful solution to the conflict with Russia.

    On arrival in Paris for international talks on the conflict, Andrii Deshchytsia said: "We want to say a few things to the Russians. We want to keep good dialogue and good relations with the Russian people. We want to settle this conflict peacefully and we don't want to fight the Russians".

    [Reuters]
  • Russian Foreign Minister Lavorv says it is up to Crimean and other Ukrainian authorities whether to invite international observers, according to Reuters.
  • The Ukrainian foreign minister says he wants to settle the conflict peacefully and does not want to fight Russia, according to Reuters.
  • According to witnesses, the Ukrainian flag was raised over a Donetsk government building, which has flown the Russian flag since Saturday, Reuters reported around 3:45 a.m. ET Wednesday.
  • Ukraine's prime minister says Russian 'aggression' is having extremely negative effects on Ukraine's economy, according to Reuters.
  • According to a ministry statement, the Russian foreign minister told the European Union the way to stabilize the situation in Ukraine is to work from the Feb. 21 agreement, including constitutional reform that takes account of all regions' interests, Reuters reported very early Wednesday.
  • A Ukrainian soldier guards a gate of a naval base of the Ukrainian military in Kerch March 4, 2014. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

  • Pres. Obama has offered Russia's Putin a way out of the Ukraine crisis through use of international monitors in Crimea and a pullback of Russian forces, a senior administration official tells Reuters.
  • A senior administration official tells Reuters that the United States will not participate in the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi, Russia, unless Moscow reverses its course on Ukraine.
  • A senior administration official tells Reuters that Pres. Obama spoke to German Chancellor Merkel for an hour today about the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.
  • With Ukraine under siege, Georgia and Moldova double down on Europe

    On Feb. 22, as Ukraine politicians voted to remove their Kremlin-friendly president, a roaring crowd in another nation took on their Russian foe. The Georgian rugby team defeated the Russian Bears, 36-10, before a near sold-out crowd in their home stadium. During the lap of honor, the Georgian players held up a banner: “Sokhumi and Tskhinvali = Georgia.” It referred to the capitals of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which like Transnistria in Moldova and potentially Crimea in Ukraine, are breakaway regions now under de facto Russian control.

    Russia has long tried to intimidate Georgia and Moldova out of their westward shift; Moldova is currently bleeding from a Kremlin boycott of its wine, and Georgia is still nursing the wounds of its 2008 war. But watching Russian troops move into Ukraine has only steeled the resolve of these two small nations to join Europe as quickly as possible. It has also made Western leaders more committed to making that happen.

    The Georgians and Moldovans remain committed to a landmark association and free trade agreement with the European Union, a step towards eventual membership, which Ukraine’s president bowed out off in November under Russian pressure, sparking three months of protest and ultimately, his ouster last week. National papers in Georgia and Moldova have touted each pledge of support for the Ukraine by Western heads of state, while eagerly documenting their own leaders’ respective meetings with American officials.

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • But at gas station, extraordinary moment. One man comes up and whispers in English, "I am sorry. Don't think we are all like this."
  • Presumably kept escorting us to outskirts of city to make sure we didn't film anything.
  • Members of crowd insist on escorting us to gas station to fix tire. Stood in line w them to buy coffees. Then escorted us for another 30 min
  • UN envoy Robert Serry has arrived in #Crimea - there, for now, to 'take stock' of the situation not to mediate. #Ukraine
  • A girl plays with a balloon near an armed man, believed to be Russian serviceman, near the gates of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol, March 4, 2014. (Maks Levin/Reuters)



  • The Wall Street Journal has an excellent interactive highlighting how nearly half of Russia's natural gas exports to Europe run through Ukraine. Click here to see more.
  • The UN Deputy Secretary-General met with acting President of Ukraine Turchinov today. Here's a readout from their meeting: 
    The Deputy Secretary-General met today with H.E. Mr. Oleksandr Turchinov, acting President of Ukraine, who informed him in detail of the very serious developments taking place in the country.


    The Deputy Secretary-General highlighted the crucial need for a diplomatic solution to the country's current crisis. He said that the United Nations' efforts in this regard are rooted in the UN Charter, in particular the principles of territorial integrity and the peaceful settlement of disputes.


    The Deputy Secretary-General expressed appreciation for the authorities' measured response to unfolding events and took note of the high level of engagement by the international community to contribute to a peaceful, political solution.


    He also commended Ukraine for its valuable contributions to United Nations peacekeeping.

  • Members of crowd watched video, seemed placated. Convinced rest to let us go. But then we realized one of our tires had been slashed.
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