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:

  • 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.
  • 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 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

  • 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
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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."

  • 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.
  • 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,"

    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.

  • 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:

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Odessa protesters seek alliance with Russia

    Pro-Russian gangs in Odessa, Ukraine demand unity with Russia. CNN's Matthew Chance reports.

    by edited by erica.harrington 3/6/2014 11:10:48 PM
  • President Obama spoke this afternoon with President Putin of Russia about the situation in #Ukraine . Readout to come.
  • Presidents Obama and Putin talk about Ukraine

    The White House released a readout of the hour-long call between U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Here's some of what it said.

    "President Obama emphasized that Russia’s actions are in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which has led us to take several steps in response, in coordination with our European partners.

    "President Obama indicated that there is a way to resolve the situation diplomatically, which addresses the interests of Russia, the people of Ukraine, and the international community.

    "As a part of that resolution, the governments of Ukraine and Russia would hold direct talks, facilitated by the international community; international monitors could ensure that the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians; Russian forces would return to their bases; and the international community would work together to support the Ukrainian people as they prepare for elections in May."
  • Vitali Klitschko talks about Ukraine's potential

    As a championship boxer, Vitali Klitschko is used to a tough fight. Now, as a Ukrainian opposition leader he is in the middle of a whole new battle. He is one of the leading voices for his country.

    Klitschko tells CNN's Anderson Cooper he wants people in the United States to know he appreciates the support his country is receiving from the West.

    "We have huge potential ... And that’s why we have to unite to make changes in our country. It’s possible," he said.

    Here's video of the interview.

  • On 'normal' life in Crimea

    CNN's Ben Wedeman spent the last week or so in Crimea. In most places there, life is normal, he says. He watched cars being stopped for speeding.

    "Life on the streets … does seem to be normal, but there’s this underlying tension about what comes next. And certainly, the idea that there’s going to be a referendum on the 16th of March to determine the fate of the Crimea really makes people even more nervous," Wedeman
  • Observers' voyage to Crimea

    CNN's Senior Photojournalist Christian Streib shares the below image of  European observers heading to Crimea today.

    The 35-strong team from the Organization for Security and Co-operation
    in Europe, a regional security bloc, was turned back by armed men at checkpoints Thursday.
    But they told CNN's Matthew Chance, who is traveling with them from Kherson in southern Ukraine toward the Crimean peninsula, that they intend to be more assertive Friday as they seek to get in and assess the

  • NATO: We can help strengthen Ukraine's military

    Even though Ukraine is not a NATO member, the alliance can help Ukraine "modernize and strengthen" its armed forces, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told CNN’s Becky Anderson today.

    Speaking from Brussels,
    Rasmussen said: "Individual NATO allies can help Ukraine in different ways, and actually they do so, and NATO as an alliance can help Ukraine modernize and strengthen their armed forces through partnership activities.

    Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander
    Lukashevich said the "NATO factor" is complicating the situation in Ukraine.

    "It seems reflexes of the past prevailed and prevented an objective analysis of the situation. We think that attempts to add 'the NATO factor' to the already complicated and fragile situation in Ukraine are extremely dangerous, as it creates an additional element of tensions and undermines normalization prospects," Lukashevich said, answering a media question on the ministry website, according to Interfax.

    Earlier this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced measures to beef up the number of fighter jets in the former Soviet Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, adding six F-15s to the four already participating in a NATO "air policing" mission in the region.

  • U.S. destroyer in last Turkish strait before Black Sea

    The guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun is getting closer to the Black Sea, CNN's
    Ivan Watson reports from Turkey.

    by Rachel Clarke

    Crimea, where Russian navy ships are blockading Ukrainian ships, is on the north end of the Black Sea. The United States says the Truxtun is going to the sea for previously scheduled exercises with Bulgaria and Romania.

  • Photo from Crimea checkpoint

    Earlier, we told you about the gunmen who are blocking unarmed European military observers from entering the Crimean peninsula from the Ukrainian mainland. CNN Senior Photojournalist Christian Streib tweeted this photo from the checkpoint:

  • Pro-Ukraine crowd gathers at Crimea checkpoint

    CNN's Matthew Chance reports from a checkpoint separating the Ukrainian mainland from the Crimean peninsula on Friday. A crowd on the mainland side waves Ukrainian flags.
    by Jason.Hanna

    Above is a picture from the Ukrainian mainland side of a checkpoint where masked gunmen are blocking unarmed European military observers from entering the Crimean peninsula.

    CNN's Matthew Chance
    reports that on the mainland side of the checkpoint, a pro-Ukrainian crowd has gathered, waving Ukrainian flags and chanting, "Crimea is part of Ukraine."
    Some of them are Tatars, a group that was persecuted in the Soviet era.

    The interim Ukrainian government invited the Vienna-based OSCE to enter Crimea, in part to investigate Russian claims that Russian-speaking residents of Crimea were under threat by pro-Western people. Russia has cited this threat as a justification for military intervention.

  • Ukrainian official: Base's gates smashes, journalists attacked

    The Ukrainian base in Crimea whose gates were reportedly smashed today was not taken over, the base's deputy commander Vitaly Onishenko told CNN's Clare Sebastian.

    Here's what Onishenko
    says happened: Between 35 and 60 men -- who the deputy commander identified as Russian troops, though their uniforms didn't have insignias -- arrived around lunchtime and demanded that Ukrainian forces put down their weapons and cede control of the base.

    The Ukrainian troops inside refused.

    The two sides talked, and at some point what Onishenko called Russian troops drove vehicles into the base's gates to breach them. The deputy base commander said they failed, damaging the gates and briefly getting through before being blocked by Ukrainian forces forming a human shield.

    Talks resumed again and -- while they did -- members of the self-described "self-defense" forces came and began attacking journalists, according to Onishenko. At least one person ended up being taken to a hospital before the self-defense forces withdrew, the deputy base commander said. Contrary to previous reporting,
    Onishenko said Cossacks weren't involved.

    Eventually, the men who
    Onishenko calls Russian troops likewise pulled back and situation settled down.

  • Talks among Western leaders continue

    Western leaders continued today to have regular conversations about what's happening in the Ukraine. U.S. President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel talked by phone, while
    Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted that he had conversed with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande.
  • Dozens of armed local militia men led by a retired general entered a Ukrainian military recruitment office in Simferopol in Crimea Saturday and put armed men on each floor, said Ukrainian defense spokesman Vladislav Seleznev in a post to Facebook.
  • Ukrainian officials accused pro-Russian forces in its Crimea region of
    fresh bullying tactics Saturday
    , as about 100 armed men reportedly took
    control of a military office in the regional capital, Simferopol.
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