Crisis in Ukraine

Crisis in Ukraine

Tension and fears are mounting


OSCE observers negotiate with an armed guard at a checkpoint heading to Crimea.
Coarse actions by pro-Russian troops in Crimea this week were followed by harsh words out of Moscow on Saturday.

On Friday, pro-Russian troops reportedly tried to smash open the gates of a Ukrainian base.
Russia's navy trapped Ukrainian ships. And armed men refused to allow military observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to enter Ukraine's Crimea region.

On Saturday, Moscow chastised the OSCE.
Condemn violence by demonstrators in Kiev that led to the ouster of Ukraine's former President first, the foreign ministry said, according to a report in state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

Then think about Crimea.


"Some OSCE members and executive bodies have acted in the worst traditions of double standards while dealing with the situation in Ukraine," the ministry reportedly said.


U.S. President Barack Obama has suggested a solution to the Crimea crisis to Russian President Vladimir Putin that would replace Russian troops with international monitors, who would protect ethnic Russians, should they be threatened.

Russian lawmakers have welcomed Crimean separatists with open arms, and Putin has said he would use force to protect ethnic Russians in Ukraine, if needed.


CNN teams are in Ukraine and Crimea as well as Moscow, Washington and other centers of power. Check below for updates of news as it breaks and read our comprehensive
full story here.

And here are some other pieces that break down what is happening:

  • Durbin: Americans don't want another war

    U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin talks with CNN's Erin Burnett about how should the U.S. respond to the crisis in Ukraine.

  • Russia considers anti-sanctions law

    Russian lawmakers were working on a draft law that would allow the confiscation of property, assets and accounts of European or U.S. companies if sanctions are imposed over Ukraine, the state-run news agency Ria Novosti reported Wednesday.

    The bill "would offer the president and government opportunities to defend our sovereignty from threats," Andrei Klishas, the head of the constitutional legislation committee in the upper house of parliament, said

    Lawyers were looking into whether the proposal would comply with the Russian constitution, but according to Klishas, such steps would "clearly be in line with European standards."




  • EU Sanctions

    The European Union will consider sanctions against Russia on Thursday if there is no de-escalation in the Ukraine crisis, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Twitter.




  • Russia - Ukraine

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was removed unconstitutionally.
  • Lavrov - Kerry Meeting

    During a news conference with his Spanish counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said he will meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris.




  • Ukraine - International Observers

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the deployment of international observers in the Ukraine is up to the Ukrainian government.
  • Ukraine - Military Coup

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in a military coup.

    "Yesterday, the president of Russia explained our views," Lavrov said.  "The problem is that international community failed to react to the anti-government protests which were contrary to the laws and the ... breaking the constitution of Ukraine. There was a military coup."
  • France warns Russia could face EU sanctions over Ukraine crisis

    The European Union will consider sanctions against Russia if there is no deescalation in the Ukraine crisis, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Wednesday.

    Possible sanctions will be on the agenda when EU leaders meet Thursday, he said via Twitter.

    Yuli Mamchun, the commander of the Ukrainian military garrison at the Belbek air base near Sevastopol, Ukraine, salutes on March 4. 



  • Is Putin looking for a Ukraine "off-ramp"?

    CNN's Anderson Cooper talks with Carl Bernstein & Fareed Zakaria about reports of a possible U.S. / German plan to end the Ukraine crisis.

  • Lavrov - Forces in Crimea

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov echoed President Vladimir Putin's denial that Russian troops are in control in Crimea, saying that the troops in question are "self-defense" forces over whom Russia has no control.

    Decisions on whether international observers should be sent into Ukraine are for leaders in the country to make, he said. He pointed out that the newly installed pro-Russian government in Crimea does not see the authorities in Kiev as legitimate.

    "This problem is multi-faceted. In order to calm the situation down everyone must act in accordance with the law," he said Wednesday.



  • Tit-for-Tat Sanctions Possible

    The Kremlin is threatening to hit back if the European Union sanctions Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

    Russian lawmakers are drafting a law that will allow Russia to confiscate assets belonging to U.S. and European companies if it faces sanctions.

    Russian forces remain in effective control of the Black Sea peninsula, in a tense standoff with Ukrainian forces loyal to the new interim government in Kiev.

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned Wednesday on Twitter that possible sanctions will be on the agenda when EU leaders meet Thursday.


  • Why Ukraine crisis won't affect Russia, U.S. space collaboration

    Credit: NASA  


    "We do not expect the current Russia-Ukraine situation to have any impact on our civil space cooperation with Russia, including our partnership on the International Space Station program," said Allard Beutel, a NASA spokesman.

    The space collaboration between the two nations has survived other diplomatic kerfuffles. And there's no need to worry, NASA says.

    But in space, it's a different story.

  • Hague: 'Every diplomatic effort' to get Ukraine-Russia meeting

    British Foreign Affairs Secretary William Hague arrives at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on Wednesday.
    by Jason.Hanna

    As anticipated, Russia's top diplomat was absent Wednesday morning from multinational talks dealing with a 1994 treaty that was supposed to guarantee Ukraine's territorial integrity.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Minister William Hague and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia met in Paris on Wednesday morning for talks on the 1994 Budapest Memorandum. In that treaty, Ukraine agreed to give up nuclear weapons, and Russia, the United States and Britain agreed "to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine."

    Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, is expected to come to Paris later in the day -- foreign ministers are meeting there for separate talks on Lebanon. Lavrov was in Spain on Wednesday morning, and a senior U.S. official told CNN's Elise Labott that Russia declined an invitation to attend the morning session in Paris.


    But Kerry and Hague said they hoped to speak with Lavrov about Ukraine after he arrives in the afternoon.


    "Regrettably (we're) missing one member, but we will be meeting hopefully this afternoon with that additional member," Kerry told reporters ahead of Wednesday morning's session.

    "We will make every diplomatic effort today to bring Russia and Ukraine in direct contact," Hague said. "...  We will try to create other opportunities later today."


  • EU pledges 11B euros to debt-burdened Ukraine

    Ukraine is struggling with debt, and its confrontation with Russia won't help. So others have been stepping up to help the cash-strapped interim government.

    The European Union announced today that it will offer Ukraine an aid package of at least 11 billion euros ($15 billion).  Experts had been predicting Ukraine could default this month on its
    billions of dollars in debts -- t
    he country owes roughly $13 billion in
    debt this year, CNNMoney reports.


    Yesterday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said his country would guarantee $1 billion in loans to Ukraine's new government. Senior U.S. administration officials said this would help insulate the Ukrainian economy from effects of reduced energy subsidies from Russia.

    The International Monetary Fund is looking into whether it will provide aid. Ukrainian leaders said last month that they need $35 billion in aid, CNNMoney reported.

  • British Prime Minister David Cameron is seen in London in this March 3, 2014, file photo. 
    by Jason.Hanna


    British PM: Nothing off the table

    British Prime Minister David Cameron told his country's House of Commons on Wednesday that "nothing should be off the table" in terms of economic or diplomatic steps that could be taken against Russia in the Ukraine crisis.

    Cameron, in his comments during a weekly "prime minister's questions" session, added: "What Russia has done is unacceptable."

    As we noted earlier, it would be difficult for Britain and the rest of the European Union -- especially while it recovers from financial troubles -- to impose economic sanctions against Russia, given how their economies are intertwined.


  • Russia plans more missile tests

    Russia plans to test-launch three more intercontinental ballistic missiles in March, state-run news agency RIA-Novosti reported Wednesday.

    The news comes after Russia test-launched such a missile in Kazakhstan on Tuesday. Two U.S. officials said that launch was planned before the current crisis in Ukraine, and Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council, described that test as "routine."

    As for the upcoming tests, RIA-Novosti reported that Russia asked Kazakhstan on February 19 for the OK to conduct them. February 19 was a day after at least 26 people were killed in clashes in Ukraine's capital between protesters and security forces, and days before Ukrainian lawmakers ousted then-President Viktor Yanukovych. There is no information linking the tests to the Ukraine crisis.

    Here is CNN's report on yesterday's missile test:



  • U.S., UK, Ukraine agree on observers

    For a few days we've been hearing Western officials say something to the effect that if Russia is concerned about Russian-speaking people in parts of Ukraine, then international observers should go in and make sure they're not mistreated. Rather than, say, Russia's military doing this. 

    This morning, the United States, the United Kingdom and Ukraine formally said they were on board with the observer idea. In their meeting in Paris, top diplomats from the countries agreed that international observers "would help address any concerns regarding irregular forces, military activity and the treatment of all Ukrainians irrespective of their ethnicity or spoken language," according to a joint statement from the three.

    Russia has heard these calls for observers, and so far it hasn't shown much enthusiasm for the idea.  Speaking in Madrid on Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said decisions on whether international observers should be sent into Ukraine are for leaders in the country to make. He pointed out that Crimea's newly installed pro-Russian regional government does not see the authorities in Kiev as legitimate.
  • Kerry, Lavrov meet in Paris

    French President Francois Hollande, center, speaks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and U.S.Secretary of State John Kerry at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris on Wednesday. 
    by Jason.Hanna

    For the first time since the Crimean crisis unfolded last week, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have met face-to-face.

    The two, along with top diplomats from France, Germany and the United Kingdom,  held "a brief and informal discussion" Wednesday afternoon on the sidelines of a meeting about Lebanon in Paris, a senior State Department official told CNN's Elise Labott. 
  • Hagel: More military support for Poland, Baltic states


    U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Wednesday his country will step up military support for Poland and the Baltic states -- countries that, like Ukraine, are on Russia's western border.

    Hagel told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States' military is:

    1) "Stepping up joint training  through our aviation detachment in Poland"; and
    2) "Augmenting our participation in NATO’s air policing mission on the Baltic peninsula."
     
    "I think everyone on this committee knows ... that this is a time for wise and steady and firm leadership, and it’s a time for all of us to stand with the Ukrainian people in support of their
    territorial integrity and their sovereignty, and we’re doing that," Hagel said.

    What does this mean? CNN pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr said this is partly a signal of support for Poland, which borders both Ukraine and Russia. Poland's concerns about the Ukrainian crisis prompted it to call yesterday's NATO meeting.

    As for the Baltic nations -- Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia -- Hagel's announcement means NATO will increase its effort to defense their air spaces. Essentially, Starr said, the United States is reassuring border countries that are concerned about Russia's intervention in Ukraine.
  • More to come from Kerry, Lavrov

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will meet again in Paris Wednesday afternoon, likely within the hour, a senior U.S. State Department official told CNN's Elise Labott.

    The two are in Paris for a meeting on Lebanon but intend to meet with each other to discuss Ukraine. 
  • Russia's energy threat to Ukraine, Europe

    Russia’s state-controlled gas company Gazprom has said it plans to end natural gas discounts in Ukraine starting in April because Ukraine owes money. CNN's Nina Dos Santos speaks to Emily Stormquist of the consultancy firm Eurasia Group about the threat that Russia's disagreements with the interim Ukraine government could pose to energy in Ukraine and in the European Union.

  • Witnesses: Protesters take government building in Donetsk

    Here's another potential sign that parts of eastern Ukraine aren't on board with the new European Union-leaning government in Ukraine's capital: Protestors have taken over a local government building in the eastern city of Donetsk and were seen heading to the local treasury, eyewitnesses told CNN on Wednesday.

    The protestors want a referendum on the status of the Donetsk region and want to see the region gain more autonomy, the witnesses said.

     

    Eastern Ukraine is generally seen as more Russia-leaning that the west of Ukraine. See this map showing how Ukraine is divided politically and culturally.
  • U.N.: Envoy threatened in Crimea, but is OK

    U.N. envoy Robert Serry speaks to the U.N. Security Council in this November 2012 file photo.
    by Jason.Hanna

    The United Nations' envoy to Ukraine was threatened briefly by armed gunmen in Crimea on Wednesday after he left a naval facility there, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson told reporters moments ago.

    The envoy, Robert Serry
    , was approached by gunmen who wanted him to get into a car, Eliasson said.

    Serry refused, but his vehicle was blocked by the gunmen. So, he started walking back to his hotel, accompanied by a U.N. colleague, said Eliasson, who said he spoke to Serry less than an hour ago by phone.

    Serry stopped at a cafe and is "in good shape physically," Eliasson said. It wasn't immediately clear whether the threat had passed.

    Eliasson didn't say who the gunmen were. He said that if Serry determines that he can't continue to work safely in Crimea, he will go to Ukraine's capital, Kiev.
  • Reporter: U.N. envoy leaving Crimea after being trapped in cafe

    More on the reported threat to U.N. envoy Robert Serry in Crimea: A reporter for British CNN affiliate ITV, James Mates, says that after the initial threat, gunmen blocked him and Serry in a cafe.

    Mates, who posted pictures of the pair at the cafe on his Twitter account, has tweeted that Serry is now on his way to an airport.

    To recap: The U.N. says armed men threatened Serry on Wednesday after he left a military facility in Crimea. The gunmen prevented Serry from leaving in his car, so Serry walked and stopped at a cafe, the U.N. said.

    Mates, on Twitter, said that he was with Serry in the cafe, and that "men in combat fatigues" were blocking the cafe door from the outside, preventing them from leaving. Eventually, according to Mates, Serry "agreed to go straight to the airport and end his mission in Crimea," and Serry was allowed to leave in a car as a crowd chanted "Russia, Russia."

    The United Nations hasn't said whether Serry has agreed to leave Crimea. Below are Mates' tweets:

     
     

    1 of 7



  • U.S. House panel to vote on Russia sanctions resolution

    The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee will vote as early as Thursday on a resolution laying out proposed sanctions against Russia over the standoff in Ukraine, the panel's chairman, Rep. Ed Royce, told CNN. 

    The measure would not carry the force of law, but would instead express House sentiment on Russia's military intervention in Ukraine's Crimea region and Royce expects support to be bipartisan, CNN's Deirdre Walsh writes.
  • House sanctions resolution -- more details

    More details on the proposed House Foreign Affairs Committee's resolution: The proposal urges the Obama administration to work with "our European allies and other countries" to "impose visa, financial, trade, and other sanctions on senior Russian officials, majority state-owned banks and commercial organizations, and other state agencies, as appropriate."
  • More on threat against U.N. envoy in Crimea




  • NATO says it's reviewing its cooperation with Russia

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen 
    by Jason.Hanna

    NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said moments ago that the alliance has put "the entire range of NATO-Russia cooperation under review" because of the Ukraine situation.

    Rasmussen also said NATO has decided "to intensify our partnership" with Ukraine's civilian and military leadership. This will include more joint military training and exercises, he said.

    Rasmussen made the comment to reporters after a meeting in Brussels between representatives of NATO and Russia.
  • Russian news network: Anchor free to express opinion

    Remember the Russia Today news anchor who criticized Russia for that country's military intervention in Crimea? The network, funded by Russia's government, has said that she won't be reprimanded.

    "RT journalists and hosts are free to express their own opinions, which is what Abby Martin did in her program 'Breaking the Set' on Monday," RT said through spokeswoman Alina Mikhaleva. "She has not been reprimanded for doing so, something that she herself confirmed in her program the following evening."

    RT also said that the Washington-based Martin on Tuesday night "noted that while she has been speaking out against military interventions nearly every day on her show, and particularly against the U.S.'s involvement in Ukraine since the very beginning of that crisis," those comments weren't picked up by mainstream media.

    "So it's kind of a sad commentary that my only criticism of Russia's actions was picked up when it fits the proper narrative," Martin said, according to RT.
  • U.N. confirms threatened envoy leaving Crimea

    This November 2012 file photo shows U.N. envoy Robert Serry in the Gaza Strip.
    by Jason.Hanna

    U.N. envoy Robert Serry, who the world body said was threatened by armed men while he was working in Crimea today, is leaving the peninsula by plane Wednesday night and "will shortly return to Kiev to continue his mission," the U.N. said.

    British network ITV reported earlier that Serry, after being trapped in a cafe by men in combat fatigues, agreed to leave Crimea. Read more about Serry's ordeal below and in this story.


  • Honoring the fallen. Independence Square Kiev
    by holmescnn via
    Maidan Square this morning. Damp and foggy, but protesters still in place
    by holmescnn via
    Independence Square Kiev. Barricades in place
    by holmescnn via
    Independence Square Kiev. Barricades in place
    by holmescnn via
    Honoring the fallen. Independence Square Kiev
    by holmescnn via
    Honoring the fallen. Independence Square Kiev
    by holmescnn via
     
     

    1 of 6

    The scene in Ukraine's capital

    A few hundred miles northwest of the Crimean peninsula, flowers, pictures and other items honor sit in the square in Ukraine's capital, Kiev, honoring those who were killed in demonstrations last month.

    CNN's Michael Holmes is in Kiev, where months of demonstrations eventually led to the ouster of  President Viktor Yanukovych. Abvove are some pictures that Holmes took today:

     
  • Kerry speaks following meeting with Lavrov

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is speaking to reporters soon in Paris, where he spoke earlier today with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about Ukraine. The meeting with the two came on the sidelines of a larger meeting, involving their counterparts from other nations, on Lebanon.
  • Kerry speaks on Ukraine

    "Russia's violation of Ukrainian sovereignty ... has actually united the world in support of the Ukrainian people," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said moments ago in Paris, where he and other top diplomats met with Russia's foreign minister about Ukraine.

    Russia made the wrong choice by intervening militarily in Ukraine's Crimea region, he said. "Russia can now choose to de-escalate this situation and we are committed to working with Russia" to do this, he said.
  • Intense discussions


    Foreign ministers -- including those from Russia and Ukraine -- meeting Wednesday in Paris "agreed to continue intense discussions in the coming days," U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said. Their goal is "to see how we can help normalize the situation, stabilize it and overcome the crisis," he added.
  • Kerry: United States 'ready to work with all parties'

    "We cannot and will not allow the integrity or the sovereignty of Ukraine to be violated" or let any such violation go without redress, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said moments ago in Paris, where he and other top diplomats met with Russia's foreign minister about Ukraine.

    He said the United States is "ready to work with all parties" to resolve the crisis.

    He said foreign ministers -- including those from Russia and Ukraine -- meeting today in Paris "agreed to continue intense discussions in the coming days."

    Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met three times today in the French capital. One of those meetings included a "brief and informal discussion" among Kerry, Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, an official said.
  • Shared intentions

    The intention to "overcome the crisis" in Ukraine is "shared exactly" by foreign ministers who met Wednesday in Paris, including those from Russia and Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
    says.

  • Russia, U.S. agree on one thing


    Russia and the United States agreed to help all Ukrainians to implement the agreements reached February 21, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

    The announcement followed a meeting in Paris between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. 

    The February 21 deal, signed by opposition leaders, three European Union foreign ministers and President Viktor Yanukovych to end Ukraine’s political crisis and days of bloody fighting, was not signed by Russia at the time. 
    by CNN's Steve Almasy edited by erica.harrington 3/5/2014 8:46:42 PM
  • Obama, Cameron talk

    U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron chatted by phone Wednesday. According to a White House statement, the two leaders discussed how to support the interim government in Ukraine as it tries to stabilize its economy. 
    by CNN's Steve Almasy edited by erica.harrington 3/5/2014 9:39:21 PM
  • Kerry: Russia made the wrong choice, but can fix it

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States is ready to work with Russia to find the road to the de-escalation of the crisis in Ukraine. 





    by CNN's Steve Almasy edited by erica.harrington 3/5/2014 10:04:52 PM
  • Ukraine PM: Military option not off table

    Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk spoke to CNN's Matthew Chance about his preference for a diplomatic solution and talked about his concern should diplomacy fail.

    .
  • U.S. State Department's top 10 list of Putin's false claims

    It begins: “As Russia spins a false narrative to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine, the world has not seen such startling Russian fiction since Dostoyevsky wrote, “The formula ‘two plus two equals five’ is not without its attractions.”

    It is the U.S. State Department's fact sheet entitled, "President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims about Ukraine."

    For instance, Putin's claim that Ukraine's government is illegitimate. Not so fast, the U.S. says, pointing to the fact that former President Viktor Yanukovych was denounced by his own party.

    "The interim government of Ukraine is a government of the people, which will shepherd the country toward democratic elections on May 25th – elections that will allow all Ukrainians to have a voice in the future of their country."
    by CNN's Steve Almasy edited by erica.harrington 3/5/2014 11:25:12 PM
  • U.N. envoy talks about harrowing experience

    Robert Serry – the U.N. envoy to Ukraine who was threatened by armed men in Crimea -- told CNN's Wolf Blitzer by phone that he was never physically assaulted during the incident earlier today.

    "I cannot say that I felt very comfortable, but I -- no, it's not that I felt directly threatened, no, I didn't," he told CNN.



    Serry said that when he arrived at the airport, there was a second standoff involving unidentified, uniformed people. He waited in the car for 20 minutes but said all credit was due to some members from the Crimean parliament who helped him get into the terminal.

    "I hope it serves as a reminder to all how dangerous the situation has become in the Crimea," he told CNN. "There is a very urgent need to de-escalate this situation. All those who are responsible and can do that must have cool heads, lower their rhetoric, and address this situation."
  • Key U.S. congressman: "We have to do better"

    When did the U.S. figure out Russia had bad intentions in Ukraine? The topic of what intelligence Washington had was hotly discussed Wednesday.

    Rep. Peter King, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said he never saw any definitive reports until after the Russian incursion into Crimea.

    "We certainly were never told definitely, probably that there would be any type of incursion by the Russians," he told "Erin Burnett OutFront," "and the question I would have is whether or not there was not enough intelligence, or whether or not the analysis was not done properly, or are we -- just the fact that we can't get inside Putin's head.

    "But clearly we were not anticipating this level of attack, this level of incursion by the Russian,s and that is something that -- as we're going to have, I believe, an ongoing series of crises with the Russians -- we have to do better in the future."
    by CNN's Steve Almasy edited by erica.harrington 3/6/2014 1:30:20 AM
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