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Ukraine Crisis

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

  • Secretary of State Kerry says he will meet Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in London on Friday for talks on Ukraine, Reuters reports.

    Al Jazeera America's Washington DC correspondent Bob Kovach confirms the Reuters report.

    During the meeting, Sec. Kerry says he will present Lavrov will a 'series of options' to resolve the dispute over Ukraine, according to Reuters.
  • According to the Kremlin, Russia's Putin and the Swiss president have discussed the OSCE's capabilities in the context of efforts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis but no decisions have been announced, Reuters reports.
  • Breaking: Sens McCain, Durbin, Barrasso, Hoeven, Ron Johnson, Murphy & Whitehouse to #Ukraine Thursday-Sunday to meet with interim gov't.
  • The European Union will probably sign the political part of its association agreement with Ukraine next week, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Wednesday.

    "With Chancellor Merkel we both believe that signing of the association agreement with Ukraine as soon as possible would be beneficial," Tusk said at a joint conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    "If there are no technical obstacles, signing of this (political) part of the association agreement should take place at the next meeting of the European Council, which is next week," Tusk added.

    [Reuters]
  • According to a French statement, France's Hollande has told Russia's Putin the Crimea referendum has no legal basis, according to Reuters.

    Building on that, Hollande said Putin must do all he can to stop Crimea from joining Russia as that would be an 'unacceptable annexation,' according to Reuters.
  • While in Warsaw, German Chancellor Merkel said European leaders will try to sign an association agreement for Ukraine at the next summit, Reuters reports.

    Merkel reportedly went on to say no progress has been on setting up a contact group with Moscow on Ukraine. If no progress is made on Ukraine, European Union leaders will have to discuss second stage sanctions on Russia at their summit next week, Merkel said, according to Reuters.
  • The G7 leaders are calling on Russia to 'cease all efforts to change the status of Crimea' and to halt the referendum, according to Reuters.

    In a statement, the G7 leaders say they would not recognize the outcome of the upcoming referendum in Crimea because it would violate the Ukrainian constitution.

    The leaders go on to say if Russia annexes Crimea, 'we will take further action, individually and collectively,' according to Reuters.

    The G7 leaders go on to say in their statement that the annexation of Crimea 'could have grave implications for the legal order that protects the unit and sovereignty of all states.'
  • Security chief @AndriyParubiy : #Ukraine surrounded by up to 80K Russian troops, 270 tanks, 370 artillery systems,140 warplanes, 19 warships
  • #Ukraine will top the agenda when I meet Swedish Foregin Minister @carlbildt later today. We’ll be discussing next EU steps
  • Ahead of President Obama's sit down today with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk, BloombergBusinessweek is analyzing what the meeting will do to relations in the area.

    From Businessweek: 

    Barack Obama’s meeting with Ukraine’s prime minister today raises the stakes in his attempt to confront Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ambitions in Crimea and preempt its spread to other countries in the region.


    The invitation to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, 39, is Obama’s latest demonstration of support for the government in Kiev before a March 16 referendum in Crimea that may result in the the autonomous region joining Russia. The U.S. regards the vote as illegitimate.


    Since Russia used its troops to gain dominance in Ukraine’s Crimea region last month, Obama has spoken out repeatedly and has used diplomatic pressure, authorized economic sanctions and had forces participate in military maneuvers to pressure Putin to pull back. The U.S. has yet to succeed, and the Yatsenyuk meeting presents another opportunity as well as a risk.


    “As anyone who’s familiar with Russia knows, you can threaten them in private and make clear what costs they’re going to face,” said Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. “But if you want to avoid catastrophe, publicly the diplomacy should have been geared toward helping Putin climb down.


  • German Finance Minister Schaeuble says the risk of economic impact of the crisis in Ukraine is very serious but manageable, Reuters reports.

    Schaeuble also reportedly said the German budget and finance planning are not negatively affected by the crisis in Ukraine.
  • Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine's acting president, has written a very strongly worded op-ed for The New York Times on "Russian 'imperialism'".

    From the Times:

    AT this very moment, in plain view of the entire world, the final demise of the Soviet empire is unfolding. The plan for its resurrection, long in the works at the Kremlin, has failed: Ukraine has proved that it has matured into an independent state that will determine its own domestic and foreign policy.


    It was when Viktor F. Yanukovych, then president, refused to listen to the pro-European yearnings of Ukrainians that the mass protests erupted in Kiev in the fall of 2013. It was when Mr. Yanukovych decided, with the active support of Russia, to resort to force that he lost control of the situation. And it was when Mr. Yanukovych crossed the line and unleashed gunfire against his own people that he lost his legitimacy as the president.


    The Kremlin had a strategy designed to weaken Ukraine and its government by prying some regions away from Kiev’s control and establishing enclaves in the south and east similar to Transnistria in Moldova and Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia. Russia needs these frozen conflicts in order to prevent the normal development of the post-Soviet republics and to impede their integration into European and NATO structures.


    Moscow’s plan has been foiled. The people of Ukraine proved stronger than a dictator who had been groomed for the role of a puppet ruler. The opposition quickly gained control of the situation, consolidating the authority of Parliament and legitimately appointing a new government. This prompt action calmed the protests within the country, yet it also prompted foreign aggression.



    Turchynov's op-ed was published a day before Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk heads to the White House for a meeting with President Obama and Vice President Biden. The leaders are gathering to discuss 'how to find a peaceful resolution to Russia's ongoing military intervention in Crimea,' according to the White House. 

  • In an exclusive, Reuters reports the European Union has approved the framework and wording for sanctions against Russia. 

    From Reuters: 

    EU member states have agreed the wording of sanctions on Russia, including travel restrictions and asset freezes against those responsible for violating the sovereignty of Ukraine, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.


    The seven-page document describes in detail the restrictive measures to be taken against Moscow if it does not reverse course in Crimea and begin talks with international mediators on efforts to resolve the crisis over Ukraine.


    If approved by EU foreign ministers at a meeting on Monday, they would be the first sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia since the end of the Cold War, marking a severe deterioration in East-West relations.


    "Member states shall take the necessary measures to prevent the entry into, or transit through, their territories of the natural persons responsible for actions which undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine," reads Article 1 of the document.


    The second article covers assets held in the European Union and states that "all funds and economic resources belonging to, owned, held or controlled" by those responsible for actions which have undermined Ukraine's integrity "shall be frozen".


    The document was approved by what is known as a silence procedure after no EU member states raised objections to the wording by 1100 GMT on Wednesday, officials said.


  • According to a document, European Union member states have approved a framework for travel bans and asset freezes against Russia over Crimea, Reuters reports.
  • Russia is continuing to needle the international community with incendiary tweets. On Tuesday, the foreign ministry declared the Crimean parliament's decision 'absolutely legitimate' in a tweet that was in direct contrast to the majority of the international community's stance.

    Today, the Russian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva is taking aim at Ukraine's new government: 


    The latest tweets come on the heels of reports that Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov invited Secretary of State Kerry to visit Russia for more consultations on Ukraine but Kerry postponed the visit.

    However, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki has often demurred when asked about a meeting over the past few days, saying the United States needs to see that the Russians are willing to seriously engage before agreeing to such a face to face. 
  • FM #Steinmeier : If process of separating #Crimea from #Ukraine continues, #Europe will have to respond. Statement: bit.ly/1khKpp0
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday he wanted to impose travel restrictions on "prominent Russian MPs" as part of the European Union's response to Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

    "We would be pushing for those travel bans to include some prominent Russian MPs," Cameron told reporters on a flight to Israel. "We had a meeting yesterday in London with partners about this and put that on the table."

    Political agreement would still need to be reached among the EU's 28 countries before any travel bans were imposed. A meeting of EU foreign ministers on Monday presents one possible date when such restrictions could be agreed.

    Asked to whom the travel bans could apply, Cameron said: "The criteria is people who have been pushing for the unacceptable steps that have been taken."

    [Reuters]
  • Crimea will soon take ownership of Ukrainian state companies on its territory, the first deputy prime minister of the southern Ukrainian region said on Wednesday.

    At a news conference broadcast on Russian television, Rustam Temirgaliev said: "In the coming days the transfer is being prepared ... for a series of assets, belonging to the Ukrainian state which are located on the territory of Crimea."

    He named energy company Chornomornaftohaz and the state railway company.

    [Reuters]
  • While in Tel Aviv, British Prime Minister Cameron said he is pushing the European Union to impose travel bans on prominent Russian lawmakers over the Kremlin's actions in Ukraine, according to Reuters.
  • According to the deputy prime minister, Crimea will soon transfer ownership of Ukrainian state companies on its territory to Crimean authorities, Reuters reports.
  • President: Ukraine won't intervene in Crimea, referendum a 'sham'

    Ukraine will not intervene militarily in the separatist peninsula of Crimea, in order to avoid exposing its eastern border, Ukraine's acting president told AFP Tuesday in an exclusive interview.

    In his comments, Oleksandr Turchynov, who came to power last month after violent protests brought down the previous pro-Moscow government, also slammed an upcoming referendum on Crimea as a "sham", the results of which will be fixed in Moscow.

    "We cannot launch a military operation in Crimea, as we would expose the eastern border (close to Russia) and Ukraine would not be protected," Turchynov said as Crimea — a southeastern peninsula that has come under the de facto control of Russian forces — prepares to vote in a referendum Sunday on joining Russia.

    "What they call the referendum will not happen in Crimea but in the offices of the Kremlin," the president said, hours after the pro-Russian authorities in the Black Sea peninsula voted for full independence from Ukraine, further escalating what has already turned into the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.

    "It's a sham, most of the people of Crimea will boycott this provocation," he added.

    "The Russian forces don't intend to hold a referendum, they're just going to falsify the results."

    Read more at Al Jazeera America
  • President Obama is meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk at the White House at 2:45 p.m. ET. Vice President Biden will also attend the meeting, according to a schedule released by the White House. 

    From the White House:

    The President and Prime Minister Yatsenyuk will discuss how to find a peaceful resolution to Russia’s ongoing military intervention in Crimea that would respect Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.  They will also discuss support the international community can provide to help Ukraine confront its economic challenges, and the importance of uniting Ukraine and working to fulfill the aspirations of the Ukrainian people as they prepare for May presidential elections.

  • Parubiy: more than 40k men volunteered to the #Ukraine army. National Guard to be created within days
  • Parubiy: there are more than 300 refugees from #Crimea , one third Tatars. They fear for their lives #Ukraine
  • Parubiy: several special operations enacted by #Ukraine border service to prevent entry of extremists from #Russia , #Transnistria
  • Parubiy: #Russia planned #Crimea scenario for Eastern, Southern #Ukraine . Many Russian intelligence agents detained there
  • Parubiy: #Russia said military on the border was there for 'a drill', drill is over but forces not withdrawn #Ukraine
  • #Ukraine defence & security secretary Parubiy: huge Russian military presence at Ukrainian borders, in Transnistria
  • #Parubiy : #Ukraine stopped diversion groups from #Russia in Luhansk, Donetsk and Kherson regions
  • #Parubiy : #Russia grows military potential on the border with #Ukraine , they call it drills officially, but they haven't stopped them yet
  • Security and Defense council head Andriy #Parubiy : #Ukraine under threat of full-scale invasion from different directions
  • NATO deployed two surveillance planes to fly over Poland and Romania on Wednesday to monitor the crisis in neighboring Ukraine.

    The military alliance said two AWACS, or Airborne Warning And Control System, reconnaissance planes took off from bases in Germany and Britain.

    The surveillance flights won't leave the airspace of its member nations — thus not crossing either into Ukrainian or Russian airspace, a spokesman for NATO's operational headquarters said in Belgium.

    "The planes can observe over 300,000 square kilometers (115,000 square miles) and will primarily be looking on air activity and the sea," Lt. Col. Jay Janzen said, adding that one AWACS aircraft already went on a surveillance mission to Romania on Tuesday and that more missions were being planned.

    "Our flights will not leave NATO airspace," Janzen said. "Regardless, we can observe, we can look a very long way."

    NATO's 28 member states decided Monday to intensify the assessment of the possible threat the Ukrainian crisis poses to the alliance by sending AWACS planes. The decision comes after deployments of U.S. fighter planes to eastern European nations bordering Russia, such as Poland and Lithuania.

    Janzen said the flights had already been planned as training missions before NATO's decision, but more planes will be added to the exercises in the coming days.

    The plane flying out of the German base to Romania was an E-3A AWACS and the plane leaving Britain for Poland was an E-3B AWACS, Janzen said.

    [The Associated Press]
  • According to the Bulgarian navy, the joint naval exercise in the Black Sea between the United States, Romania and Bulgaria has started, Reuters reported a little after 3:30 a.m. ET.
  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to to take up a Ukrainian aid package on Wednesday, according to POLITICO.

    From POLITICO:

    The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will take up a Ukrainian aid and sanctions package on Wednesday that includes changes to the International Monetary Fund opposed by some congressional Republicans.


    The panel’s chairman, Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said Tuesday that a markup in his committee will be held Wednesday. He also confirmed that the IMF reforms would be in the legislation.


    “My hope is that that we get a bipartisan vote out of the committee on it and it will help an effort to include it as part of the Ukraine package,” Menendez told reporters on Tuesday morning.


    The IMF is the biggest sticking point in the congressional response to Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, which has prompted unusual bipartisan cooperation on Capitol Hill. But the Obama administration has frustrated congressional Republicans by pushing for the IMF changes.


    Revisions agreed to by the IMF board in 2010 would reconfigure the amount of money that the United States and other countries contribute to the organization. But that change can’t be implemented without congressional approval and Republicans have raised concerns that taxpayer dollars could be at risk.


    The top Republican on the Foreign Relations panel, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, signaled that there were still some issues to resolve, including IMF language.


    Read more at POLITICO
  • When asked what Russian President Putin's takeaway should be of US policy, White House Press Secretary said the U.S. supports the Ukrainian government.
  • Q. Is Kerry still discussing #Syria w/Lavrov? State Dept: 'Obviously, Ukraine has taken a great deal of prominence in their conversations.'
  • 'I can't predict for what our plan is on Monday,' Psaki said of how the State Department will respond to the Crimean referendum, adding that she hasn't seen anything to indicate the referendum won't happen.


    When asked about the Russian foreign ministry's tweet in support of the Crimean parliament, Psaki said it wasn't moving in the right direction.


  • State Dept: We're not closing the window. I can't predict where we'll be in a week. But Kerry's point is that 'we need to move this fwd now'
  • State Dept: Kerry says 'it's unacceptable that Russian forces and irregulars continue to take matters into their own hands.' #Russia #Crimea
  • State: Kerry told Lavrov he's willing engage, inc this week, but 'environment has to be right.' We didn't see that in the responses we rec'd
  • State Dept: Russian reply largely repeated Lavrov's statements from Paris & Rome. (ie. No movement on key pts: ditching 2/21 agrmt, talks)
  • State: Russians responded last night to US Q's on whether Russia would talk deescalation, disarming irregulars, direct talks w/contact group
  • During a call with Russia's Lavrov, Secretary of State Kerry reiterated the view the Crimean referendum would not be in line with the Ukrainian constitution, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday during her briefing.
  • During his Reddit 'Ask Me Anything,' Al Jazeera America's Nick Schifrin was asked what heartwarming stories he's seen while reporting in Crimea. Unfortunately, he hasn't found any. 

    From the AMA:

    I love heartwarming stories. Sadly, I haven't found one yet in Crimea. I'm sure there are some. But right now, there's a lot of rallying, a lot of intimidation, a lot of armed people across the peninsula, and a lot of worry ahead of Sunday's referendum. In Kiev, I loved the story we did about a volunteer nurse in Independence Square. She traveled from 10 hours away to help the fighters there. She was shot through the neck -- but survived. And is now returning to the Square. An amazing, inspiring story.

    Head over to Reddit to see more of Schifrin's answers on the Ukrainian crisis and get your own questions on the situation answered.
  • USA has "flexible tool" to "calibrate the costs" for Russia on Ukraine, Carney says
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