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Ukraine Blog

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

  • Massive opposing rallies this eve in eastern Ukrainian city of #Donetsk . Livestream here: ustream.tv/channel/donbas…

  • Pro-Russia and Pro-Ukraine protesters face off in Donetsk. View Live Stream here: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/donbasstv-live 


  • Despite parliament restorm by pro #Russia supporters the streets were yellow & blue tonight #Donetsk #Ukraine #unity http://pbs.twimg.com/media/Bh-zSV-IQAACJLa.jpg

  • Kiev's Independence square - the site of pitched battles just a few weeks ago - has now become a memorial site.

    People from across Ukraine have been visiting the area to pay homage to those killed during the protests.

    Al Jazeera's Nadim Baba reports from Kiev.

  • Lavrov says Kerry agreed that Ukraine should uphold February 21 accord

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that he and US Secretary of State John Kerry has agreed that Ukraine should uphold a deal signed two weeks ago between now-ousted president Viktor Yanukovich and the opposition.

    "We agreed that it is necessary to help Ukrainians, all Ukrainians to fulfil the agreements that were reached February 21," Lavrov said at a televised briefing after talks with Kerry in Paris. 

    The accord in question granted major concessions to the opposition, which are now in power in Kiev.

    Lavrov, however, did not say what would happen to Yanukovich now that he has been ousted. [AFP]
  • NATO suspends work with Russia on Syria chemical weapons

    NATO has announced a full review of its cooperation with Russia try to pressure Moscow into backing down on Ukraine and said it would suspend planning for a joint mission linked to Syrian chemical weapons.

    NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said alliance officials would no longer hold staff-level meetings with their Russian counterparts, while stepping up engagement with Ukraine's civilian and military leadership.

    "We have also decided that no staff-level civilian or military meetings with Russia will take place for now," Rasmussen told reporters after a meeting between NATO and Russian officials in Brussels.

    NATO has been in talks with Russia on a possible joint mission to protect a Uship that will destroy Syria's deadliest chemical weapons. [Reuters]
  • Protesters carrying Ukrainian flags demonstrate in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk.

    by gvvaleriya via Instagram

  • Tymoshenko says West must stop Russian aggression

    Ukraine's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko has said the West must ramp up pressure on Russia to force it to withdraw troops from Crimea.

    Speaking to The Associated Press two weeks after she was released from jail, 53-year-old Tymoshenko said Ukraine should not make any compromises to appease Russia.

    "We believe that the aggressor must leave without any conditions,'' Tymoshenko said.

    Tymoshenko, whose jailing was denounced by the West as politically motivated, said that any negotiations about Ukraine's future should be conducted directly with the United States, Britain and Russia, who signed a treaty in 1994 guaranteeing Ukraine's security.

    The West must do "everything that will stop the aggressor. Period,'' she said. [AP]



  • Kerry on Ukraine: I had no expectations of a meeting between Russia's Lavrov and Ukraine's Deshchitsia in Paris. More details soon. [Al Jazeera]

  • At least 15 people reportedly hurt in Donetsk as pro-Russian groups storm government building and clashed with pro-Ukraine demonstrators.


  • OSCE sent 35 unarmed military personnel to Ukraine on Thursday:

    As of now, eighteen OSCE participating States have responded positively to the request sending up to two representatives each. Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States.  One representative from the OSCE Conflict Prevention Centre will also be participating. The military visit participants are on their way to Ukraine now.

    OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier said: "It is my hope that this military visit will help to de-escalate tensions in Ukraine. By providing an objective assessment of the facts on the ground, the OSCE will be better placed to foster a political solution to the current crisis through dialogue."
    FULL TEXT HERE

    Al Jazeera team confirmed that OSCE verification mission is in Ukraine and will stay there  until March 12, visiting military objects of Ukrainian army and navy in Crimea.
  • Excerpts from Al Jazeera's full interview with Yulia Tymoshenko:

    "It's not Ukraine that will lose Crimea but the whole world. All world leaders should realise what a critical moment this is. Kremlin has declared war not just on Ukraine, not just on Crimea but on whole world. The more time we lose, the more we have to lose. There are lots of talks of special negotiations. If we continue to follow this course then we might need change tactic after [Crimea's] March 30 referendum."

    "Putin won't wage full scale war. Countries that signed Budapest memorandum need to demonstrate force then Kremlin will step back. The biggest task of the international community is to make sure March 30 referendum doesn't take place. Economic sanctions should be put in place to stop the aggressor. I cannot give specific advice to countries that signed Budapest but I call on them to stick to guarantees."

    "When I say more powerful institutions should be used I don't mean the first shot should be heard. It's similar to Cuban missile crisis. Countries need to take a step back. A strategy of containment should be used as much as possible. In the 21st century Russia should not be allowed to invade another country. So far we remain peaceful. We're a peaceful nation. Yes we are mobilised. But we need international help. Yesterday was a great example. We saw Ukrainian servicemen march into a base and demand it back. That's a great example of how we're trying to peacefully resist."

    "I have no communication with Putin. I did when I was PM. But not now. The countries that signed the Budapest memorandum should be the ones negotiating."

    "A real leader is one who promotes peace. Currently Putin is losing his leadership position."

    "Ukraine is only country where people died for a United Europe. It would be cruel if they died in vain."

    "I am absolutely sure they are military servicemen of Russian federation and this is absolutely an incursion. I believe OSCE mission will prove that. There is already plenty of video evidence."

    "Of course the source of this conflict is presence of Black Sea Fleet. After the crisis we must do everything possible to ensure Black Sea fleet leaves."




  • US Vice President Joe Biden meets Ukraine's singer-turned-activist Ruslana to discuss the crisis in her country.






  • Another Russia Today anchor criticises Russia's actions in Ukraine and resigns on air:

    A US-based anchor for the Russia Today television network resigned live on air on Wednesday in protest at the deployment of Russia-backed forces in Ukraine.

    Liz Wahl said during a broadcast she could no longer work for a Moscow-funded network which she accused of "whitewashing" the actions of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

    "My grandparents came here as refugees during the Hungarian revolution, ironically to escape the Soviet forces," she said.

    "Personally, I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin.
     
    "I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I am resigning."

    The broadcaster's resignation comes after another host from RT, Abby Martin, criticized the actions of pro-Russian military units on her show. [AFP]

  • The US State Department publishes a list of what it said were 10 of "false claims" Russia's President Vladimir Putin made about events in Ukraine.

    In the first of 10 bullet points, the State Department said: 

    "Mr. Putin says: Russian forces in Crimea are only acting to protect Russian military assets. It is 'citizens' defense groups,' not Russian forces, who have seized infrastructure and
    military facilities in Crimea.

    "The Facts: Strong evidence suggests that members of Russian security services are at the heart of the highly organized anti-Ukraine forces in Crimea. While these units wear uniforms without insignia, they drive vehicles with Russian military license plates and freely identify themselves as Russian security forces when asked by the international media and the Ukrainian military. Moreover, these individuals are armed with weapons not generally available to civilians."
     
    Follow the link below for viewing the full list:

    President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims about Ukraine

    U.S. Department of StatePresident Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims about Ukraine


  • Crimea to set up own law enforcement and security services:

    Ukraine's southern autonomous republic of Crimea, which refused to recognize the new central government in Kiev, announced on Wednesday that it would set up its own law enforcement and security agencies.

    "We are creating our own prosecutors' office, Interior Ministry and security service," the speaker of the region's parliament, Volodymyr Konstantynov, told Russia's RIA Novosti news agency.

  • Clinton: Putin is a tough but thin-skinned leader

    A day after she likened actions of Russia's president on Ukraine's Crimean peninsula to those of Adolf Hitler in the 1930s, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday Vladimir Putin is a tough but thin-skinned leader who is squandering his country's potential.

    "I know we are dealing with a tough guy with a thin skin. I’ve had a lot of experience — well, not only with him but with people like that."

    Clinton warned during her latest speech at the University of California, Los Angeles that "all parties should avoid steps that could be misinterpreted or lead to miscalculation at this delicate time." [AP]


  • Emanuel Karagiannis, a senior lecturer at King's College of London, tells Al Jazeera he doubts "NATO will find a proper way to intervene".

  • Hundreds of pro-Russian demonstrators retook a government building in Donetsk. It has renewed fears the turmoil in Crimea could engulf other parts of Ukraine that are majority Russian-speaking.Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from Donetsk.

  • The United States and European diplomats have failed to negotiate a peaceful solution to Ukraine's crisis as Russia's foreign minister refused to meet with his Ukrainian counterpart in Paris.US Secretary of State John Kerry sought on Wednesday to arrange face-to-face talks between Russia's Sergei Lavrov and Andriy Deshchytsia on the confrontation that started when Moscow sent troops into Ukraine's autonomous republic of Crimea.Al Jazeera's Barnaby Philipps reports from Paris.

  • On Wednesday RT anchor Liz Wahl resigned live on air. You can read about it here. It followed her fellow anchor Abby Martin winning plaudits for "going rogue" and condemning Russia's military intervention. But some are asking just how rogue she was: "Like Moscow’s citing its right to “protect” Russian minorities in Ukraine as a pretext for its occupation of Crimea, Martin’s act of pseudo-dissidence is a good old-fashioned false flag." Read more about Abby Martin, RT and the Kremlin here.
  • Today looks set to be another day of frantic diplomacy.
    - The President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, is convening an extraordinary meeting of European Union leaders to discuss the situation in Ukraine and how to de-escalate it. The summit is expected to begin at 1030 GMT and finish with a press conference at around 1400GMT.
    - Also on Thursday, US Secretary of State John Kerry will participate in the Rome Ministerial Conference on Libya. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected at the meeting. Kerry will also hold a series of bilateral meetings.
    - The United Nations Security Council is holding a closed-doors meeting at 1930 GMT to discuss Ukraine.
  • The European Union says it is freezing the assets of the ousted Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovich, and 17 others seen as responsible for the violation of human rights [Reuters]
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has reacted to events of recent days, namely NATO's decision to suspend collaboration with Russia and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe [OSCE] visiting Ukraine.
    "I want to very briefly say that we had a meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry on the situation in Ukraine in relation to the actions that our partners are trying to take - action that does not help create an atmosphere for dialogue and constructive cooperation," he said in a statement issued by the ministry on Thursday [Reuters]
  • The European Union has released details of the 18 people whose assets are being frozen (scroll down to pages eight, nine and 10 for the list of names). Viktor Yanukovich is one of the 18.
  • Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk has urged Russia to engage with international mediation efforts. Yatseniuk made the plea after meeting the president of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, telling a news conference on Thursday that Moscow should not ignore attempts to de-escalate the tension. "We ask Russia to respond, whether they are ready to preserve peace and stability in Europe, or they are ready to instigate other provocations and tensions in our bilateral and multilateral relations." [Reuters]
  • The Russian news agency RIA reports the Crimea vice premier, Rustam Temirgaliyev, as saying that a referendum on the region's status will take place on March 16. The referendum will ask if Crimea should remain part of Ukraine or join Russia. The story, reported by Reuters, is also running on RT.
  • The only other report - for now - about this Crimea referendum is from the Russian news site, RT. Here is the link to the story but here are some lines from it: "More than half the Crimean population is Russian and uses only this language for their communication. The residents announced they are going to hold a referendum to determine the fate of the Ukrainian autonomous region." The deputy prime minister is expected to hold a news conference later on Thursday.
  • Crimea referendum update: the March 16 ballot is taking place earlier than previously announced. The region's deputy prime minister, Rustam Temirgaliev, says there will be two questions on the ballot. "The first one: Are you in favor of Crimea becoming a constituent territory of the Russian Federation. The second one: Are you in favor of restoring Crimea’s 1992 constitution.”
    According to the 1992 constitution, Crimea is part of Ukraine but has relations with Kiev.
  • This has just popped up on Reuters - and it comes from the Russian news agency RIA: Crimean parliament votes unanimously to become part of Russia. AFP is reporting that Crimean officials have asked Putin to examine their request to join Russia.





  • EU leaders weighing sanctions against Russia

    Russia will face sanctions over its military incursion in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula unless it withdraws its troops or engages in credible talks to defuse the situation, European leaders said.

    "We need to send a very clear message to the Russian government that what has happened is unacceptable and should have consequences,'' British Prime Minister David Cameron said as he arrived at an emergency meeting of the bloc's 28 leaders in Brussels.

    But leaders appeared divided between nations close to Russia's borders and some western economic powerhouses, notably Germany, that were taking a more dovish line.

    "Whether (sanctions) will come into force depends also on how the diplomatic process progresses,'' German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, noting that foreign ministers including Secretary of State John Kerry and Russia's Sergey Lavrov were holding talks again in Rome on Thursday.
  • Crimea ready to adopt Russian rouble - regional official

    The Ukrainian region of Crimea could adopt the Russian rouble as its currency and "nationalise" state property as part of plans to join the Russian Federation, a regional official was quoted as saying.

    Interfax news agency cited Rustam Temurgaliyev, Crimea's vice premier, as saying: "All Ukrainian state enterprises will be nationalised and become the property of the Crimean autonomy."

    Hoping Moscow would let Crimea become part of Russia, he said: "We are ready to introduce the rouble." [Reuters]
  • US announces visa restrictions on Russians

    The White House has imposed visa restrictions on Russians and Crimeans who it said are "threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine."

    In addition, President Barack Obama has signed an executive order authorising sanctions against "individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine."

    The new action on visas comes in addition to a U.S. policy denying visas to those involved in human rights abuses related to political oppression in Ukraine.

    The White House announcement comes as Western nations have been wrestling with a response to Russia's military incursion into Ukraine's Crimean peninsula. [AP]
  • Ukraine's government calls pro-Russian authorities 'illegitimate'

    The authorities in Crimea are totally illegitimate, both the parliament and the government. They are forced to work under the barrel of a gun and all their decisions are dictated by fear and are illegal.

    A spokeswoman quoted Ukraine's acting President Oleksander Turchinov as saying.
     
    [Reuters]


  • The Crimean parliament in Ukraine has voted unanimously in favour of joining Russia, with officials asking Moscow to examine their request.

    Reports published on Thursday said that parliament had adopted a motion for the strategic peninsula to join the Russian Federation.

    To read Al Jazeera's full updated story click here.


  • Pro-Russian demonstrators leave Donetsk parliament building

    Al Jazeera has learned that pro-Russian demonstrators have now left the parliament building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk - and that the Ukrainian flag is once again flying over it.

    Overnight, pro-Russia protesters took over the building, and raised a Russian flag. More details to follow. 
  • Crimean deputy PM says decree to join Russia now in force

    The Crimean deputy prime minister, Rustam Temurgaliyev has declared that the decree making Crimea part of Russia is now in force.

    Temurgaliyev also declared that the Ukrainian armed forces in Crimea are now considered as forces of a third country, and will be considered "occupiers".

    Earlier, members of the Crimean parliament voted overwhelmingly to join Russia.  [Reuters]
  • US embassy in Moscow issues latest statement on Ukraine, visa restrictions


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