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:

  • RT anchor tells CNN why she resigned live on air

    Liz Wahl is the second Russia Today personality to make waves for speaking out against Russia on the air. She spoke to CNN's Anderson Cooper Wednesday night about her decision.

  • Building a new Russian empire

    Does Russian President Vladimir Putin plan to use the Ukraine invasion to try and build a new empire to go up against NATO and the European Union? CNN's Anderson Cooper talks with the experts.


  • Current NATO and the OSCE actions aimed at finding a solution to the standoff in Ukraine "are not helping to create an atmosphere of dialogue and constructive cooperation," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said following talks in Paris.
    Lavrov met there with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
    Lavrov said Kerry "acknowledged that this kind of atmosphere must be created and that under conditions of threat and ultimatum it is difficult to hold fair accords, which afterwards will help the Ukrainian nation stabilize the situation."
    Lavrov's statement appeared on the Russian Foreign Ministry website.


  • Specter of war

    This Irish newspaper touches on historic anxieties brought up by tensions over Crimea. 
  • Ukraine and EU

    European Parliament President Martin Schulz speaking alongside Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukrainian PM.
    by Ben Brumfield edited by CNN's Ed Payne 3/6/2014 8:36:20 AM
  • Ukraine - EU Debate

    EU Parliament President Martin Schulz says that debates over Ukraine and possible, targeted sanctions on Russia were tough.

    Ukrainian acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says the political option is the only one for the Ukraine.  He asks Russia to pull back its forces. (Russia denies soldiers fanning out in Crimea belong to their troops.)

    He calls the crisis in Ukraine Europe's crisis.
    by Ben Brumfield edited by CNN's Ed Payne 3/6/2014 8:41:33 AM
  • EU Parliament President Schulz on aid package to Ukraine: 

    "We hope that the foreseen 11 billion Euros will be available immediately."
  • Ukrainian acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk: 

    "A lot of options are on the table. We stick to the political option."
  • by Jmicron Wong via Facebook

    A matter of proportions

    A relatively small peninsula is a large concern for the enormous Russian Federation. 
  • Demonstrations, tensions

    Ukrainian riot police are in a standoff against pro-Russian demonstrators outside key government buildings in Odessa, a port city in the country's south, near Moldova.

  • Kerry, EU foreign ministers, Ukraine

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met on the sidelines of the Libya donors conference in Rome with EU foreign ministers from Italy, the UK, France and Germany on Ukraine. 
  • Crimean referendum coming soon?

    The Crimean parliament has voted in favor of holding a March 16 public referendum to ask whether the Autonomous Republic of Crimea should stay with Ukraine or join the Russian Federation, a parliament official said Thursday.
  • Crimea a market maker?

    Russia's MICEX stock index taking a 1%-plus dip after a previous recovery.



  • Soviet ties?

    Old sentiments run deep with some Crimeans who remember Soviet times.

  • EU heads of state meet behind closed doors

    EU heads of state are in a closed door session aimed at forging a diplomatic response to the crisis in Crimea, European Commsion President Jose Manuel Barroso said in a Twitter message.

    “We want to support PM Yatseniuk, his government and Ukraine in coping with the immense challenges ahead,” he wrote. “We stand by a united and inclusive Ukraine.”

  • I've been speaking to @BarackObama about the situation in Ukraine. We are united in condemnation of Russia's actions. http://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bh_WNdJCAAAN5A7.jpg

  • Crimean parliament passes resolution to hold a referendum -- and much more

    From the the website of the Supreme Council of the
    Autonomous Republic of Crimea:

    The resolution contains nine points of which:

    1. To join the Russian Federation as a subject of the Russian Federation

    2. To call an all Crimea referendum (including Sevastopol) which will bear the
    following two alternate questions:

        1. Are you for the unification of Crimea with Russia as a
    subject of the Russian Federation?

        2. Are you for the implementation of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Crimea and the         status of Crimea as a part of Ukraine?

    3. The question receiving the majority of votes will be considered the expression of the direct         will of the people of Crimea.

    >>> Points 4-8 involved logistics, technicalities <<<

    9. The Supreme Soviet of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea has approached the
    President of the Russian Federation and the Federal Council and the State Duma
    with a proposal to begin procedures for entering the Russian Federation as a
    subject of the Russian Federation.

  • Russian markets continue their decline today. RTS Index down 3%, MICEX down 2.3% so far. (The section after the dotted line is today.)

  • U.S. banning visas for those involved in Ukraine crisis

    The United States' retaliation against those it believes is illegally interfering in Ukraine has begun.

    The State Department on Thursday imposed a visa ban against people the U.S. government believes is "responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," the White House said.

    Also, President Barack Obama signed an executive order authorizing sanctions -- including the blocking any of their property in the United States -- against such people.

    The White House statement and the executive order do not name anyone, but Obama's order says the targeted people will include anyone that the U.S. Treasury Department finds "to have asserted governmental authority over any part or region of Ukraine without the authorization of the government of Ukraine."

    Given that the West accuses Russia of ordering thousands of troops to take control of Crimea, certain Russian officials would appear to be in the sanctions crosshairs.


  • Kerry, Lavrov meet in Rome

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is shown Thursday at the Italian Foreign Ministry headquarters in Rome, where he and other diplomats were discussing Libya -- and, on the sidelines, about Ukraine.
    by Jason.Hanna


    The top diplomats of the United States and Russia are meeting face-to-face for the second straight day as the Ukraine crisis goes on.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov
    -- both in Rome for multination talks about Libya -- are meeting on the sidelines of those Libya talks, ostensibly about Ukraine, CNN's Elise Labott reported.

    A day earlier, they met in Paris, also on the sidelines of a larger meeting. After the Paris discussions, Kerry said all sides had agreed "that it is important to try to resolve these issues through dialogue."

  • Ukrainian interim leader: Crimean vote will be illegitimate

    Ukraine's interim prime minister has just said he considers the Crimean referendum scheduled in 10 days is "illegitimate."

    The "so-called referendum" -- in which officials in Ukraine's Crimea region say they're asking the public whether they want to be part of Ukraine or Russia -- has "no legal grounds at all,"
    Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters moments ago in Brussels, Belgium.

    Yatsenyuk is in Belgium to meet with European Union heads of state about the crisis in his country.

    Regional officials in Crimea, which already is under de facto Russian control, announced the referendum today.
    Yatsenyuk's government does not recognize the Crimea region's new, pro-Moscow government that was installed late last month.

    "Crimea was, is, and will be an integral part of Ukraine,"
    Yatsenyuk said.

    Yatsenyuk  also called on Russia to "pull back its military into barracks" and to stop supporting the "illegitimate so-called government of Crimea."
  • Ukrainian interim PM: This is a nuclear issue

    Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk arrives with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (foreground) at a European Union meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
    by Jason.Hanna


    Ukraine's interim prime minister said minutes ago that if Ukraine is broken up, the world will have trouble ever getting another country to give up its nuclear weapons program.

    Why? In 1994, Ukraine agreed to give up its Soviet-era nuclear arsenal in return for guarantees -- signed by the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia -- of its territorial integrity and independence.

    What happens now to Ukraine "will have an impact on nuclear nonproliferation programs,"
    Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters in Brussels, Belgium.

    If Ukraine is broken up --  for example, if Russia absorbed the Ukrainian region of Crimea -- "it would be quite difficult to (convince) Iran
    or North Korea" to abandon nuclear programshe said.

    Y
    atsenyuk is in Belgium to meet with European Union heads of state about the crisis in his country.


  • About that flashpoint Europe-Ukraine deal ...

    Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said today that his government wants to sign an association agreement with the European Union "as soon as possible."

    This is the deal that then-Ukrainian Viktor Yanukovych
    declined to sign, wanting instead to move closer to Russia. That decision was one catalyst of the mass demonstrations in Ukraine's capital from November until Yanukovych was ousted last month.

    Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk also weighed in on the deal today, saying he urges its signing, according to the Polish Foreign Ministry.

    If implemented, the agreement would lay the foundations for anchoring Ukraine in the West, developing political, security and trade ties between the two entities.

    Yatsenyuk, speaking in Brussels, where he met with EU heads of state, also acknowledged Ukraine's financial debts and said he was grateful to the EU for its 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 reported.

  • Observers blocked from Crimea, group says

    Unarmed military observers have been blocked from Ukraine's Crimea region, a spokeswoman for the security bloc Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe said Thursday.

    The OSCE, at Ukraine's request, asked for the observers to be sent to Crimea, a peninsula that has been under de facto Russian control for more than a week. Ukraine and the West says Russia has sent thousands of troops into Crimea to secure the region.

    It wasn't immediately clear who blocked the 35 observers.

    The visit was to take place under the Vienna Document 2011, which allows for voluntary hosting of visits to dispel concerns about unusual military activities. Some Western nations have said they also wanted observers there to check the validity of what Russia has said is its concern in Crimea -- that Russian-speaking people there were under threat.

    The OSCE has 57 participating nations – including the U.S., Russia and Ukraine – across Europe, Asia and North America.


  • More on Ukrainian interim PM's demand to Russia:

    Here is more from Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. In this clip, he calls on Russia to pull back from the Ukrainian region on Crimea:
  • Crimean lawmaker: Only Russian military welcome here

    A member of the Russian forces stands guard by a Ukrainian Navy emblem outside the Ukrainian base in Perevalnoye, near Simferopol, on Thursday.
    by Jason.Hanna

    A member of Crimea's new pro-Moscow regional government said Thursday that the only forces permitted in that Ukrainian region are Russian forces, and that forces loyal to Ukraine would be considered occupiers.

    The comment from Rustam Termirgaliev, deputy speaker of Crimea's regional parliament, came on a day when Crimean leaders said the region would hold a referendum in 10 days on whether residents want to be part of Ukraine or Russia.

    Russia has had Crimea under de facto control for more than a week, with troops surrounding Ukrainian military facilities there. Termirgaliev said he'd advised Ukrainian troops to swear allegiance to the Russian army or leave Crimea under safe passage.
  • Ukrainian Defense Ministry: Russians scuttled ship to block us

    by Jason.Hanna

    Tensions remain high around military bases in Crimea, and there are concerns that violence may erupt as tempers fray.


    Ukraine's Ministry of Defense said unidentified Russian forces had scuttled an old warship (pictured, above) in an attempt to block up to seven Ukrainian vessels in a Crimean harbor under cover of darkness Wednesday.




  • Ukraine says leader of pro-Russian movement arrested

    Ukrainian authorities arrested the leader of a pro-Russian movement in the eastern city of Donetsk, the Security Service of Ukraine said Thursday.

    Authorities said he is a Ukrainian national named Pavlo Gubarev, a self-proclaimed "governor" of Donetsk.

    Donetsk, like Crimea to the south, is near Russia's border and has citizens who feel close to Russia culturally and politically. Viktor Yanukovych, the Russia-leaning Ukrainian president who was ousted in February, is from the Donetsk area.

    On Wednesday,  protesters took over a local government building as they called for a referendum on the region's status and greater autonomy, witnesses told CNN.

  • Kerry's meeting with Lavrov in Rome

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, left, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discuss the Ukraine crisis on the sidelines of an international conference on Libya in Rome on Thursday.
    by Jason.Hanna


    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry "pressed the importance of allowing international monitors into Crimea and eastern Ukraine to see first-hand the situation on the ground" when he met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Thursday, a senior U.S. State Department official said.

    The two met in Rome on the sidelines of a multinational conference about Libya, a day after the two also talked in Paris during an international meeting about Lebanon.

    "They continued their discussions on the situation in Ukraine," the State Department official said about Thursday's discussion in Rome. "The secretary made clear the importance of the Russians talking directly to the Ukrainians, and the two discussed possible formats for how that dialogue might take place."
  • Would Putin be sanctioned?

    Russian President Vladimir Putin
    by Jason.Hanna


    A senior U.S. administration official indicated Thursday that the United States is not considering Russian President Vladimir Putin for initial sanctions against Russian officials.

    “It is an unusual and extraordinary circumstance to sanction a head of state, and we would not begin our designations by doing so," the official said on condition on anonymity.

    Earlier Thursday, the State Department on imposed a visa ban against people the U.S.
    government believes is "responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine," the White House said.


    Also, President Barack Obama signed an executive order authorizing sanctions -- including the blocking any of their property in the United States -- against such people.

    The White House statement and the executive order do not name anyone, but Obama's order says the targeted people will include anyone that the U.S. Treasury Department finds "to have asserted governmental authority over any part or region of Ukraine without the authorization of the government of Ukraine."

  • Europe: Sanctions if Russia doesn't de-escalate soon


    The European Union decided Thursday to take a small step against Russia because of the Ukrainian crisis and said that if it's not de-escalated soon, the EU-Russian relationship will suffer "serious consequences."

    As a first, immediate step, the EU will suspend bilateral talks on visa matters. But if negotiations on Ukraine don't produce results soon, "the European Union will decide on additional measures,"

    European
    Council President Herman Van Rompuy
    told reporters in Brussels after a meeting of EU heads of state.

    Those measures would include travel bans asset freezes, Van Rompuy said. He did not say who would be targeted.

    Tthe EU also would cancel a future EU-Russia summit, he said.

    If Russia destabilizes Ukraine further, he said, that would "lead to severe and far-reaching consequences for relations between (the) European  Union ... and the Russian Federation," including economically.
  • Obama to speak on Ukraine shortly

    U.S. President Barack Obama will make a previously unscheduled statement on the Ukraine crisis at 1:05 p.m. ET, the White House said.
  • Obama: Crimea referendum would be illegal

    President Barack Obama said Thursday he was "confident" that the international community was "moving forward together" in responding to what he called the Russian intervention in Ukraine.

    Speaking to reporters at the White House, Obama said that if Russia continues "this violation of international law" in Ukraine, "the resolve of the United States and our allies and the international community will remain firm."

    He also said that a proposed referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region -- one that, as proposed by
    proposed by pro-Russian Crimean lawmakers, would ask residents whether Crimea should be part of Ukraine or Russia -- would "violate the Ukrainian constitution and violate international law."

    Any discussion about a referendum must include Ukraine's legitimate government, Obama said. Washington considers Ukraine's legitimate government to be the one installed by Parliament after last month's ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych following months of protests.
  • Kerry: Russia has an opportunity to de-escalate


    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters moments ago that he spoke with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Rome today, and the two have agreed to continue talking "over the course of the next hours, the next days'' to try to find a political solution to end the crisis in Ukraine.

     "As you have heard me say all week, the choices that Russia has made escalated this situation, and we believe Russia has the opportunity now .
    .. to de-escalate," he said.

  • Obama on visa bans, sanctions

    Here's video of U.S. President Barack Obama's statement on Ukraine this afternoon. He talked of what the United States is doing -- like visa bans -- against people he says is "responsible for violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."
  • House panel OKs resolution on sanctions


    The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee has just passed a nonbinding resolution condemning Russia's actions in Ukraine and calling for sanctions on  Russian officials, banks and other state agencies.


    The measure does not have force of law, but it is a way for the House to support the Obama administration's actions and to show Russia that there will be consequences for its actions.
  • Interpol considers alert for Yanukovych

    Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych
    by Jason.Hanna

    Interpol said Thursday it is considering a request to issue an i
    nternational wanted notice for ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

    The request, made by Ukraine's interim government,
    says Yanukovych is wanted on charges including abuse of power and murder.

    A red notice is not an international arrest warrant, but
    many of Interpol's 190 member countries consider the alert to be a valid request for
    provisional arrest, the agency said.


  • Kerry: Russia can make the right choices

    Video from his statement in Rome earlier today:

  • 'Thank you, Russia, for protecting us'

    In Sevastopol in the Ukrainian region of Crimea on Thursday, people wave Russian flags after hearing that a local council supported the Crimean regional Parliament's preference to join Russia.
    by Jason.Hanna

    Supporters of Russia have been out and about in the Ukrainian region of Crimea.

    "Our grandparents protected our land from the SS, and we will protect our land from Western extremists," a woman shouted yesterday in Simferopol
    , the administrative center of Ukraine's Crimea region, where a pro-Russia crowd gathered. "Thank you, Russia, for protecting us."

    Normal life continues in some parts of Crimea -- people still go to work, to restaurants, to bars. But tensions continue to mount in the region, where lawmakers voted Thursday in favor of rejoining Russia and having a referendum in 10 days. CNN's Elizabeth Landau, Diana and Ben Wedeman take a look at what the mood is in Crimea.

  • U.S. House OKs aid package for Ukraine

    The U.S. House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a financial aid package for Ukraine, authorizing up to $1 billion in loan guarantees. The vote was 385 to 23.

    Ukraine has said it needs help to pay its debts. Experts had been predicting Ukraine could default this month on its billions of dollars in debts -- the country owes roughly $13 billion in debt this year, CNNMoney reported.

    Earlier this week, the European Union said it would offer 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 reported.
     
  • Lavrov: 'Impossible to act honestly under the threat of ultimatums and sanctions'

    In comments following his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed various aspects of their talks. Here's some of what he said:

    "We have not yet reached a final, mutual understanding.
    We want to get a deeper understanding of what our partners mean by offering to create an international mechanism and what will be its composition. It's important for us, I'll stress once again, to respect the agreement of February 21, primarily about the constitutional reform, the creation of a national unity government, and elections following the constitutional reform."

    "I drew attention of U.S. Secretary of State as I did yesterday in Paris to a continuously aggravating atmosphere, to the announced closed lists of the Russian citizens who will be denied entry into the United States."

    "Once again, as I told John Kerry, who seems to understand this, such actions do not promote normal cooperation. It is impossible to act honestly under the threat of ultimatums and sanctions."
  • Protesters fear for future of Ukraine


    Here's video of Ukrainian protesters talking about their fears for the future of Ukraine under military aggression and propaganda.

  • United States won't recognize results of proposed referendum


    Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, spoke to reporters about the proposed referendum in Crimea. Lawmakers there voted in favor of leaving the country for Russia and putting it to a regional vote in 10 days.


    "The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian constitution. The Ukrainian constitution makes clear that any measure altering the territory of Ukraine must be decided by an all Ukrainian national referendum. We will not recognize the results of a referendum of this nature," she said.
  • Russia's U.N. envoy on Ukraine's government


    After the U.N. Security Council briefing late today, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations spoke to reporters, saying that Russia does not recognize the new government in Ukraine.
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