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Ukraine Blog

Follow the latest developments as Ukraine attempts to deal with pro-Russian separatists in the country's east.

  • Russia says Germany's suspension of military ties "not constructive"

    The Russian defence ministry on Sunday said Germany's decision to suspend military contacts over Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region would harm cooperation, including on Afghanistan, and warned France against taking the same tack.

    Anatoly Antonov was cited by the state RIA news agency: 
    This is negating all the positive trends achieved in recent years, including on cooperation on Afghanistan ... We see this decision as not constructive.

    In light of the West's diplomatic showdown with Moscow over Ukraine, Germany halted all defence-related exports to Russia on Friday. 

    Anotov said Germany had made its decision "under pressure", suggesting the United States was steering Paris and Berlin toward taking a harder line toward Russia.

    It's obvious that the notorious 'Atlantic solidarity' led our French and German partners to make strong statements on Russia.
  • Ukraine activists vow to fight for Crimea

    As Russia brings Crimea into the fold, those who helped oust Yanukovich-led government pledge to 'get it back'.
  • Crimea's leader urged Russians all over Ukraine to rise up against Kiev's government:

    Sergei Aksyonov said in an impassioned address he posted on Facebook and read out on 
    local TV that Crimea began facing a "sad fate" the moment three months of deadly protests involving a mix of nationalist and pro-Western forces toppled the pro-Kremlin regime in Kiev.

    But we resisted and won! Our motherland - Russia - extended her hand of help. So today, I appeal to you with a call to fight. I call on you to resist the choice made for you by a bunch of political mavericks who are being financed by oligarchs.

    Aksyonov said he was "deeply convinced" that the future of southeastern Ukraine "rested in a close union with the Russian Federation - a political, economic and cultural union". [AFP]

  • Click here  
    World leaders are to meet for emergency G7 talks on Russia's annexation of Crimea, after NATO gave warning that the Russian troop build-up in Crimea posed a wider threat to other post-Soviet states.

  • Crimea cadets to chose their nationalities:

    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

    Cadets at Sevastopol's Ukraine naval academy are to be forced to decide whether they want to join the Russians or leave Crimea.
  • Russian troops trying to seize Ukraine navy base in Crimea: 

    Russian troops were trying to seize a Ukrainian naval base in Feodosia on Monday, one of the few military facilities still flying a Ukrainian flag in Crimea after Russia's annexation, a Ukrainian military spokesman said. 

    Vladislav Seleznyov said Russian forces were trying to force their way in with the help of helicopters. A soldier inside the base confirmed they were under attack. 

  • Russian troops seize Ukraine marine base in Crimea: 

    A Ukraine marine base in Feodosia has been over-run by Russian troops, a Ukrainian serviceman has told Reuters news agency.

    First Lieutenant Anatoly Mozgovoy told Reuters on the phone from inside the base that there were shots fired and that the Ukrainian soldiers were unarmed. Asked if the base had been taken over, he said: "Yes".

    It brings to 190 the number of military sites under control of Russian forces.

  • Russia is facing possible exclusion from the G8 group over its actions in Crimea, Kerry has warned.

    A G7 summit in The Hague - originally set up to discuss nuclear security - is expected to be dominated by talk of Ukraine.
  • Europe not East-West battleground:

    President Barack Obama has told Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant that despite Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula away from Ukraine he does not view Europe as a battleground between the East and the West.

  • The naval base just over-run by Russian troops is on Crimea's South-East coast
  • Drawing Ukraine:

  • Ukraine's defence ministry has given orders to its armed forces to withdraw from Crimea, the acting president has said.

    The decision was taken because of threats to the lives and health of military personnel and their families due to Russian threats, Reuters reported.
  • A bill providing economic assistance to Ukraine and imposing sanctions over Russia's actions in Ukraine cleared a procedural hurdle in the U.S. Senate on Monday, as backers attempted to win passage of the legislation later this week.

    By a vote of 78-17, the Senate laid the groundwork for debating a bill that would back a $1 billion loan guarantee for the government in Kiev, provide $150 million in aid for Ukraine and neighboring countries and require sanctions on Russians and Ukrainians responsible for corruption, human rights abuses or undermining stability in Ukraine.

    The measure also includes reforms to the International Monetary Fund that are opposed by many congressional Republicans and are not included in a version of the bill in the House of Representatives, which could complicate efforts to pass a Ukraine aid bill.
  • Russia is interested in continuing contacts with G8 nations at all levels, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency on Tuesday. 

    Leaders of the Group of Seven nations, which does not include Russia, agreed on Monday to suspend their participation in the Group of Eight industrialised nations until Russia changes course on Ukraine. 

    Asked about contacts with the G8 nations, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying: "The Russian side continues  to be ready to have such contacts at all levels, including the top level. We are interested in such contacts." [Reuters]

  • Russia sends emergency generators to Crimea:

    Russia has sent power generators to Crimea, a Russian minister said Tuesday on a visit to the peninsula which broke away from Ukraine but still depends on it for electricity.

    "Over 1,400 mobile power stations have already been delivered to the region," Emergencies Minister Vladimir Puchkov said at a ceremony in Simferopol marking the transition of rescue workers to Moscow rule.

    On Sunday, part of Crimea plunged into darkness in what the authorities on the Black Sea peninsula said was due to cuts in mainland Ukraine.

    The Ukraine-owned power company Krymenergo said in its website that Kiev had  ordered the electricity supply's temporary suspension due to an emergency defect on a major powerline. [AFP]

  • US points to Russia's 'weakness' over Crimea
    by Al Jazeera English via YouTube

    US President Barack Obama says Crimea being part of Russia is not a "done deal in that it is not recognised by international community.

    "It is not a done deal in the sense that international community by and large is not recognising the annexation of Crimea. Obviously the facts are on the ground that Russian military controls Crimea, there are a number of individuals inside of Crimea that are supportive of that process."

    He also says Russia is bothering its neighbours out of weakness and added that Washington was concerned about the possibility of further Russian encroachment into Ukraine.

    "It is up to Russia to act responsibly and show itself once again to be willing to abide by international norms and ... if it fails to do so, there will be some costs," he said at the end of a nuclear security summit in The Hague.

    He said additional sanctions would hurt Russia, but also the economies of other countries.

    Obama also said: "When I hear analogies for example to Kosovo where you had thousands of people have been slaughtered by their government, it is a comparison that makes absolutely no sense."

  • Obama in The Hague during the Nuclear Security Summit /Reuters 

    US President Barack Obama has hit out at Moscow's expansionism as a "sign of weakness" after Russia took control of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine, fuelling fears of further intervention.

    Russia is a regional power that is threatening some of its immediate neighbours, not out of strength but out of weakness. - Barack Obama.

    Obama said that while the United States also has influence over its neighbours, "we generally don't need to invade them in order to have a strong cooperative relationship with them." [AFP]

  • Apples and oranges with prices in rubles and hryvnias are displayed at a street market in Simferopol, Crimea. The Russian ruble earlier this week entered official circulation in Crimea /AP

  • US President Barack Obama urged the West to remain united in its response to Moscow's takeover of Crimea, saying on Wednesday that "with time" Russians will realise that "brute force" cannot win.

    "With time, so long as we remain united, the Russian people will recognize that they cannot achieve security, prosperity and the status they seek through brute force.
    And that's why throughout this crisis we will combine our substantial pressure on Russia with an open door for diplomacy," Obama said in a key speech in Belgium.
  • Senior Ukrainian politician and likely presidential candidate Vitaly Klitschko
    says the Crimea referendum is against country's constitution as he meets the
    British Prime Minister in London.

    "The Crimea was and will be Ukrainian territory. The referendum we will not
    accept, it was against our constitution, against the rules.
  • Ukraine predicts 'yes' vote in UN on its unity

    Ukraine is predicting that the UN General Assembly will adopt a resolution on Thursday reaffirming the country's territorial integrity and calling the referendum that led to Russia's annexation of its Crimean Peninsula illegal. 

    Ukraine's UN Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev said in an interview on Wednesday with The Associated Press that the resolution has "several dozen'' co-sponsors and support from democratic countries around the world - but he wouldn't predict the size of the "yes'' vote. 

    Russia has mounted a campaign against the resolution, claiming the dispute is an East-West issue. Sergeyev said he has been speaking to regional groups and explaining that Russia violated the UN Charter that guarantees the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity of Ukraine and that the country is not a member of any bloc. [AP]
  • UN General Assembly is debating resolution intended to further isolate Russia over its seizure and annexation of Ukraine's Crimea. Russia's ambassador the UN has said his country takes exception to what is contained in that resolution.
  • UN General Assembly approves resolution declaring Russian annexation of Ukraine's Crimea illegal.
  • Al Jazeera's Cath Turner at the UN headquarters in New York says the resolution is not binding and is largely a reflection of what the international community thinks of Russia's actions in Crimea. A hundred countries voted "yes," 11 voted "no" and 58 did abstain.
  • Pentagon sees no signs of Russia military drills despite troop deployment

    The United States sees no indications that Russian forces along the border with Ukraine are carrying out the kind of springtime military exercises that Moscow has cited as the reason for their deployment, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

    US and European security agencies estimate Russia has deployed military and militia units totaling more than 30,000 people along its border with eastern Ukraine. 

    Although the Pentagon has cited assurances from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that its troops along the border were sent for exercises and that they would not cross into Ukraine, US officials have acknowledged concerns about continued Russian reinforcements to the area.

    "(The Russians) made it clear that their intent was to do exercises and not to cross the border. Our expectation is they're going to live up to that word," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a news briefing.

  • Right Sector supporters gather outside Kiev's parliament building demanding the resignation of the Interior Minister [Reuters] 

    Hundreds of Ukrainian far-right nationalists rallied outside the parliament building in Kiev Thursday night, smashing windows and demanding the interior minister's resignation, days after police shot dead one of their leaders.

    Elite police on Monday killed Oleksandr Muzytchko, the regional leader of Right Sector, in a shootout that erupted during a raid to arrest him in the western city of Rivne.

    The authorities have said that Muzytchko opened fire first, and was killed by a bullet from his own weapon.

    Right Sector played a crucial role in the deadly protests that unseated pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych last month, and has been branded a neo-Nazi organisation by Russia.
  • The US State Department said on Thursday it imposed a ban this week on the issuance of licenses for the export of defense items and defense services to Russia in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea.

    State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the move followed a US Commerce Department ban on the export to Russia of "dual use" items that could have military applications.

    "The State Department has also placed a hold on the issuance of licenses that would authorize the export of defense articles and defense services to Russia," she told a regular news briefing.
  • Ukraine's acting president says nationalist Right Sector group bent on destabilising new government:

    Oleksandr Turchinov slamming the Right Sector a day after hundreds of its members rallied outside the parliament building in Kiev, smashing windows and demanding Interior Minister Arsen Avakov's resignation days after police shot dead one of their leaders.

    This is the route which leads to catastrophe for the country, this way is against our own state, this is the route supporting the aggressor who is concentrating his armed forces on the borders of our land.

    Turchynov addressed lawmakers at the start of the Friday's parliament session, saying the threat by protestors to storm parliament was playing into Russia's hands.

    Under pressure from radical right wing protesters, Ukraine's Parliament voted on Friday to hold an investigation into this week's death of a prominent far right leader, Oleksandr Muzychko. 

    However, supporter of Right Sector, Evgeny Tsekalo, said:

    If the commission is established, there is nothing actually to investigate. Avakov is guilty and that's it.

    But police say Muzychko was being sought for organised crime links, hooliganism and threatening public officials. [AP]

  • Putin submits proposals on denouncing some Russia-Ukraine agreements on Black Sea Fleet

    ITAR-TASSRussian President Vladimir Putin has submitted a proposal to the State Duma on terminating the legal effect of number of Russia-Ukraine agreements on the parameters of division of the Black Sea Fleet
  • Russia's foreign ministry on Friday alleged that ethnic minorities in Ukraine are living in fear after the ouster of the country's president and the coming to power of interim authorities that include right-wing nationalists.

    The statement by the ministry was in line with Russia's frequent contention that Ukraine's large ethnic Russian community faces repression under the new government that Moscow characterizes as fascist.

    The ministry statement raises the stakes on the issue, saying that ethnic Germans, Hungarians and Czechs in Ukraine also feel themselves in peril.

    The statement said, without citing specific incidents:
    They are unsettled by the unstable political situation in the country and are seriously afraid for their lives. 

    Russia has brought large numbers of troops to areas near the Ukrainian border and speculation is strong that Moscow could use protection of ethnic Russians as a pretext for a military incursion. [AP]
  • Tymoshenko condemns Yanukovych call for further referenda in Ukraine:

    Ukraine's former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko said on Friday that exiled President Viktor Yanukovych had become a "tool aimed at destroying the independence of Ukraine".

    If that was (exiled President Viktor) Yanukovych's statement, it would just be further evidence that this person who used to be the President of Ukraine has now in fact become a tool in a fight against Ukraine, against the Ukrainian people, that he has actually become a tool aimed at destroying the independence of Ukraine.

    Tymoshenko made the statement in response to a televised address from Yanukovych, carried by Russian media, reportedly calling for a series of regional referenda in Ukraine to decide on their government. 

    I'm sure that for all of his (Yanukovych's) statements calling for separatism, sending troops to Ukraine, turning down a legal government, destroying the independence of Ukraine, taking military actions against Ukraine, he will answer in court and will be punished according to the law.

    Tymoshenko is a candidate for the 25 May presidential elections, it will be the 53-year-old's second attempt to win the presidency.

    She narrowly lost to Yanukovych in 2010 and spent two years in jail on charges that many in the West considered politically motivated.  [APTN]

  • Ukraine's multiple crises scare off tourists

    KyivPostUkraine’s enduring political crisis is hitting the hotel industry in a major way. The industry is seeing huge drops in room bookings as market players struggle to promote the country as a safe and fascinating destination. 
  • Russia says it faces growing threats from US and allies:

    Moscow faces growing threats from the United States and its allies, who are trying to weaken Russia's influence on Ukraine, a senior security official was quoted as telling President Vladimir Putin on Friday.

    Interfax quoted Alexander Malevany, deputy head of the Federal Security Service, as saying:
    There has been a sharp increase in external threats to the state. The lawful desire of the peoples of Crimea and eastern Ukrainian regions is causing hysteria in the United States and its allies.

    He said Russia was taking "offensive counter-intelligence and intelligence measures" to blunt Western efforts to "weaken Russian influence in a region that is of vital importance", Interfax reported.

    The report indicated Malevany had given no details about the measures, but the remarks could increase Western concerns that Moscow may have designs on eastern Ukraine after annexing the Crimea region, a move that has caused the biggest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War. [Reuters]

  • US sources say Russia's buildup near Ukraine may reach 40,000 troops:

    Russia's reinforcement of troops near Ukraine has brought the total forces there to as many as 40,000, US officials estimated on Friday, as the United States voiced anxiety over the buildup and called on Moscow to pull back its military.

    The US estimates of as many as 35,000 to around 40,000 troops are higher than the more than 30,000 total deployments reported earlier this week by US and European sources familiar with official reporting. 

    Some European sources remain cautious of increasing the estimates beyond 30,000.

    The military buildup is adding to concerns that Russia may again be readying an incursion into Ukraine following its annexation of Crimea, which has triggered the worst stand-off with the West since the Cold War.

    "The possibility of another Russian incursion is very real," a US intelligence official said, echoing increasingly ominous statements by other Obama administration officials.

    The Russian deployments included the establishment of supply lines and the fielding of a wide range of military forces, US officials say, speaking on condition of anonymity. [Reuters]
  • Kerry seeks Ukraine talks with Lavrov

    US Secretary of State John Kerry has made a last-minute change of plans to fly to Paris with the aim of setting up talks with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the Ukraine crisis.

    Kerry is due to meet his counterpart on Sunday to seek a common ground between the Kremlin and the West.

  • Former heavyweight boxing champion Vitali Klitschko has pulled out of the presidential race, giving his backing to Petro Poroshenko - a businessman and former foreign minister.

    Meanwhile, Yulia Tymoshenko, former prime minister, set out to fight for the top job on her own, pledging to take Crimea back from Russia.

    Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer reports from Kiev.

  • Crimea's Tatars vote for self-rule

    The Tatars, which make up about 12 percent of Crimea's population, strongly opposed the March 16 referendum that saw the peninsula become part of Russia [AP] 

    Crimea's Tatars have voted to push for self-rule in their homeland following its annexation by Russia.

    Ethnic Tatars from all over Crimea convened in the town of Bakhchysaray on Saturday for an emergency Qurultai, or congress, to decide on the fate of the Muslim community of about 300,000 people on the Black Sea peninsula.

    "There comes a moment in the life of every people when a choice must be made that will determine its future," said Tatar leader Refat Chubarov.

    The Tatars, which make up about 12 percent of Crimea's population, strongly opposed and largely boycotted the hastily-organised March 16 referendum that saw the peninsula split from Ukraine.

  • Money is a pressing issue in Crimea, with its economy in deep debt, and in need of investment.

    Russia is promising to come to the rescue, with billions of dollars worth of investment.

    The hope is that Moscow will spend freely to improve the lives of Crimeans, to show that the annexation is a success.

    Al Jazeera's Nick Spicer reports from Simferopol.

  • Putin’s spokesman: dialogue with Merkel amidst Ukrainian crisis “worth its weight in gold”


    Contacts between Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a situation like the crisis around Ukraine are “worth their weight in gold,” Russian president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday in an interview with Germany’s public-service television broadcaster ZDF.

    “Merkel’s role is rather big, taking into account the constructive and rather open relations with Vladimir Putin,” he said. “Since the very beginning of the crisis, the two [leaders\ have been maintaining constant dialogue, and such frequent contacts make it possible at least to bring their positions closer. In such acute situation, such contacts are worth their weight in gold. It is a secret to no one that the positions on the Ukrainian crisis are different but the dialogue is extremely useful and we hope this dialogue will be continued.”

    Peskov characterized this dialogue as “constructive on the one hand, but rather difficult on the other hand.” Interaction between state figures, in his words, stems from the interests of their countries, since each of them seeks to defend the positions of his or her state.

    When asked whether the Russian president was ready to meet with the German chancellor, Peskov noted, “We do not know as of yet.” “Previous plans provided for contacts in various formats, currently talks are underway at the expert level,” he said, adding that the Russian side wanted to continue the direct dialogue. “As it was said during a meeting with Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, it is better to speak to each other than to speak about each other,” Peskov stressed.

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry are having a meeting in Paris to find a common ground between the West and the Kremlin over Ukraine crisis.


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  • No US-Russia deal on Ukraine


    The US and Russia have failed to reach a deal on Ukraine, but Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called talks with the US secretary of state "constructive".

    Lavrov said both parties presented their plans for a de-escalation of the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, but did not agree on what had caused it.

    He added that federalism in Ukraine would be the key to finding a solution.

  • The New Yorker on Putin's new war on "traitors": History professor in Moscow fired for comparing the Russian seizure of Crimea to Hitler’s annexation of Austria and the German-speaking Sudetenland, in 1938 and 1939. 
  • Russia flaunts grip on Crimea with prime minister's visit

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has visited Crimea, flaunting his country's grip on the Black Sea peninsula following its annexation from Ukraine.

    During his visit on Monday, Medvedev took several government officials with him on the highest-level visit to Crimea since President Vladimir Putin signed legislation on absorbing it into Russia on March 21.

    "(I'm) in Simferopol," Medvedev said on Twitter after his plane landed in the main city in the region. "Today the government will discuss the development of Crimea here."

    The visit is likely to irk Kiev and Western governments which accuse Moscow of illegally seizing Crimea from Ukraine after the region voted to join Russia in a referendum they described as a sham.

    Russia's swift takeover of Crimea, following the ouster of Moscow ally Viktor Yanukovich as Ukraine's president in late February, has caused the biggest crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War.
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