Monday, March 31, 2014

Ukraine crisis: US-Russia deadlock despite 'frank' talks

March 31 (BBC News Europe) US Secretary of State John Kerry has announced no breakthrough on Ukraine, following four hours of "frank" talks with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov. Mr Kerry said he told Mr Lavrov that the US still considered Russia's takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region to be "illegal and illegitimate". He said he had stressed that no decision on Ukraine's future could be made without Kiev's involvement. Earlier Mr Lavrov set out demands for a neutral and federal Ukraine. Mr Kerry told a news conference in Paris: "We will not accept a path forward where the legitimate government of Ukraine is not at the table. "This principle is clear: no decisions about Ukraine without Ukraine." He said he had also raised "strong concerns" about the presence of Russian troops on the Ukraine border, which he said created a climate of fear and intimidation. 

Pro-European activists held a rally in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa on Sunday
Meanwhile pro-Russian demonstrators gathered at a World War Two museum in Donetsk
Read more at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26814651

Sunday, March 30, 2014

BBC: Crimea celebrates switch to Moscow time



March 29 (BBC News Ukraine) People in the Crimean capital Simferopol have been celebrating the clocks changing to synchronise with the time in Moscow. Moscow formally annexed Crimea earlier in March after the predominantly ethnically Russian region held a referendum which backed joining Russia.
See video at

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Obama And Putin Talk About Diplomatic Solution To Ukraine Crisis

March 28 (http://www.npr.org/) Russian President Vladimir Putin called President Obama to "discuss the U.S. proposal for a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Ukraine," the White House said on Friday. Obama, the White House said, suggested Russia "put a concrete response in writing" to a proposal delivered by Secretary of State John Kerry to Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during their meeting at the Hague this week. The presidents agreed that Kerry and Lavrov should meet "to discuss next steps." In a readout of the call, the White House said Obama told Putin that Ukraine has taken a restrained position toward Russia, and he urged Russia to support the country's move toward democratic elections and constitutional reform. 
The two countries have been at an impasse since Russia annexed Crimea, a peninsula in the southern part of Ukraine with historic ties to Russia. Obama has tried to rally European support for sanctions against Russia over the crisis. "President Obama underscored to President Putin that the United States continues to support a diplomatic path in close consultation with the Government of Ukraine and in support of the Ukrainian people with the aim of de-escalation of the crisis," the White House said. "President Obama made clear that this remains possible only if Russia pulls back its troops and does not take any steps to further violate Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty."

Friday, March 28, 2014

Kyiv's air-raid shelters have enough space for everyone

March 27 (Ukrinform) In case of emergencies, bomb-shelters in Kyiv have enough space for all residents and guests of the city, Head of Kyiv City State Administration (KCSA) said this at an off-site meeting on Thursday. "All the conditions [in air-raid shelters in the capital - ed.] in Kyiv are provided for half million people," Bondarenko said. "If we talk about a system that relates to the underground space of the Kyiv Metro and underground parking sites, 100% of Kyiv residents can be accommodated there," Bondarenko noted. Earlier it was reported that in Kyiv there are 526 bomb shelters. Of them 299 are in the municipal ownership of the city and another 124 are owned by private entities (factories and enterprises).

Ukraine crisis: Waiting for Putin's next move

March 28 (BBC News Ukraine) Following Russia's annexation of the Crimea, the West is trying to work out what the Kremlin's next move will be. President Obama has expressed concern about Russia's troop build-up on the Ukrainian border, accusing Moscow of intimidating Kiev. Moscow correspondent Steve Rosenberg assesses President Putin's strategy in what has become an increasingly tense "geo-political chess game" between East and West. 
See video at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26785855

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Ukraine far-right leader Muzychko dies 'in police raid'



March 25 (BBC News Europe) A Ukrainian ultra-nationalist leader has been shot dead in what officials describe as a special forces operation. Oleksandr Muzychko, better known as Sashko Bily, died in a shoot-out with police in a cafe in Rivne in western Ukraine, the interior ministry said. He was a leader of Right Sector, a far-right group which was prominent in the recent anti-government protests. Meanwhile, Ukraine's parliament has voted to accept the resignation of Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh.
Mr Tenyukh had been accused of indecision in the face of Russia's military takeover of Crimea. The shooting of Muzychko happened just hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had held talks with his Ukrainian counterpart Andriy Deshchytsia - their first meeting since Russia's move into Crimea triggered a diplomatic crisis.
Ukraine's Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Yevdokimov said Muzychko died after opening fire at police and Sokol special forces, who had raided a cafe to arrest him and fellow ultra-nationalists. The authorities described Muzychko as a criminal gang leader. During the raid, Muzychko fired at police as he was trying to flee, wounding one of them. Police then returned fire and captured him and three others in his "criminal gang", Mr Yevdokimov said.
"He was still alive as they were arresting him - but then the paramedics, called to the scene, found that he had died," Mr Yevdokimov said. The three arrested gang members have been taken to Kiev for questioning. A Right Sector organiser in Rivne has now threatened revenge for the killing of Muzychko, saying he had not been summoned by investigators. "We will avenge ourselves on [Interior Minister] Arsen Avakov for the death of our brother. The shooting of Sashko Bily is a contract killing ordered by the minister," said Roman Koval of the Right Sector in Rivne region, quoted by the Ukrayinska Pravda website.
Moscow says the activities of Right Sector and other Ukrainian nationalist groups pose a threat to the large Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin gave that as one of his reasons for intervening in Crimea. However, some commentators say Russia has deliberately whipped up such fears, and that the influence of Right Sector in Ukrainian politics is exaggerated. Earlier, Russian authorities issued an arrest warrant for Muzychko, accusing him of atrocities against Russian soldiers in Chechnya. The Russian indictment says he tortured captive Russian soldiers in the 1990s, when Moscow was trying to crush Chechen separatist guerrillas. Muzychko denied the allegations. Reports say he led a group of Ukrainian nationalists who fought alongside the Chechen rebels.

Ukrainian border guard: 'We didn't come here to fight'

A unit of Ukrainian officer cadets was recently sent to the Donetsk region, in the east of the country, to help reinforce the border, after Russia annexed Crimea earlier this month. One of those - Maxim Garmash - was born in the area. And with many of the people in the region supporting Russia, he found the cadets were far from welcome.
Video available at 
http://tevel1.com:81/news/world-europe-26741246

was produced by BBC Russian's Olga Ivshina

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ukraine crisis: The weakness of Europe

March 24 (BBC News Europe) Europe's leaders believe their asset freezes and travel bans against 33 Russian and Crimean officials have sent a powerful message. European officials last week insisted that the measures announced so far are having an impact. But President Putin scoffed at the moves. Ukraine's Ambassador to the UK, Volodymyr Khandogiy, said that Europe had not done enough to help Ukraine. "The US," he went on to say, "is more resolute in their actions and words".
What the Americans have done is to impose sanctions on some of the Russian president's inner circle and they have moved against Bank Rossiya - one of the Kremlin's favourite banks. But powerful Russians spend much more time in Europe than in America. It is where they invest their funds, where they buy their football clubs, where they party and where often they choose to educate their children. Europe's leaders, if they chose, could still hurt those closest to President Putin, but so far they have been very cautious. Other moves are no more than gestures: ending bilateral Russia-EU summits; declaring the G8 has been replaced by a G7 without Russia. What is unclear is what precisely would trigger the Europeans moving to economic sanctions and whether it would be possible to maintain European unity. And without unanimity there can be no economic sanctions. Read more at
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26711621

EU leaders have met several times to co-ordinate their response to the Ukraine crisis

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Russian troops storm Ukrainian airbase in Crimea

March 22 (BBC News Europe) Shooting and explosions have been heard as Russian troops backed by armoured vehicles stormed a Ukrainian airbase in Crimea. Reports say at least one person was injured during the assault on Belbek base, near Sevastopol. Two armoured personnel carriers burst through the wall of the base followed by Russian troops firing weapons in the air. The base is now said to be under Russian control. Earlier, several hundred unarmed protesters seized a Ukrainian naval base at Novofedorivka, western Crimea. Pro-Russian militia have also been seizing Ukrainian navy ships. The BBC's Ian Pannell, in Crimea, says the Ukrainian troops on the peninsula feel beleaguered and abandoned by their commanders in Ukraine. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law formalising Russia's takeover of Crimea from Ukraine, despite fresh sanctions from the EU and the US.
Read more and see video at  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26698754

Friday, March 21, 2014

Russia "closes Ukrainian Roshen chocolate factory"



March 21 (BBC News Europe) Russian authorities have taken over a Ukrainian-owned sweet factory in the southern Russian city of Lipetsk, Ukraine's government says. Russian riot police moved in on the Roshen factory and halted production on Wednesday, the finance and economic ministries said. A spokesperson for the firm confirmed the "plant is closed". Roshen company is controlled by Ukrainian businessman and pro-European MP Petro Poroshenko. He is planning to stand in May's presidential elections. Ukraine's finance and economic ministries said Russian authorities had shown no documentation giving them the right "to burst on to the company's property and halt production". Alexander Zolotarev, press spokesman for Roshen CIS, said the Lipetsk plant closed after police arrived and sent all the workers home. 

Petro Poroshenko has occupied top posts in Ukrainian politics
 'Chocolate war'
Last July, Russia's consumer watchdog banned sales of Roshen sweets, citing health concerns. But many observers thought it to be Moscow's response to Mr Poroshenko's political activities rather than concern for the welfare of Russia's chocolate fans. The ban was eventually lifted in November. Mr Poroshenko was among opposition figures in Ukraine who called for the country to resist Russia's invitation to join the Moscow-led Customs Union and instead integrate with Europe. Ukraine's seventh richest man, according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated fortune of $1.3bn (£787m), Mr Poroshenko was a supporter of the Maidan protests that ultimately led to the overthrow of Ukraine's president Viktor Yanukovych last month. The factory's closure comes at a time of high tensions between Ukraine and Russia following the outcome of Sunday's referendum in Crimea to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Angered by what is sees as Russian intervention on Ukrainian territory, the US and the EU are considering escalating sanctions against those it suspects of playing a part in the crisis. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry ordered to introduce visa regime with Russia

March 18 (KyivPost) Ukrainian Foreign Ministry ordered to introduce visa regime with Russia. The decision was done by The National Security and Defense Council.

Ukrainian Ambassador Recalled From Moscow



On Monday, March 17, Kiev officially recalled its ambassador from Moscow for consultations on its breakaway region of Crimea, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko was recalled to discuss “certain international aspects” of Sunday’s referendum in Crimea, in which 96.7 percent of voters in the southern Ukrainian region had backed reunification with Russia after 60 years as part of Ukraine. Russia officially recognized Crimea as an independent state on Monday evening. The formal accession request now should be considered and approved by the Russian parliament. Then it must be approved by the Constitutional Court, which, in its turn, would forward it to the parliament for ratification. Ukrainian officials now tend to break off all diplomatic and economic relations with Russia. They also call European and US authorities to introduce sanctions against Russian officials. The referendum in Crimea, the autonomous republic within Ukraine, which was held on Sunday amid an ongoing political crisis in the country, is at the center of the most serious geopolitical showdown between Russia and the West since the end of the Cold War.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ukraine crisis: Tank traps placed on Russian border

March 18 (BBC News Europe) President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Crimea have signed a bill to absorb the peninsula into Russia. In a televised address, Vladimir Putin said Crimea "had always been part of Russia", and denied he was interested in annexing more territory.  "Tank traps" have been placed, and trenches dug on Ukraine's eastern border in order to repel any Russian attack.
Read more and see video at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26636085

Russia's President Putin moves towards annexing Crimea

March 18 (BBC News Europe) Mr Putin is due to address both houses of the Russian parliament in a special session at 15:00 local time (11:00 GMT). A delegation of Crimea's new leaders is also expected to attend. Russian news website Gazeta.ru, quoting sources, says that after the speech, President Putin and the speaker of the Crimean parliament, Vladimir Konstantinov, are expected to sign an agreement on Crimea's "entry into the Russian Federation". Having approved the draft bill, Mr Putin has told MPs "to consider it practical to sign the agreement at the highest level," Russia's Interfax news agency reports. Once signed, the bill must be approved by the constitutional court and then ratified by parliament. The process is likely to be completed this week, after which Crimea is expected to be considered a new part of the Russian Federation, with the status of a republic. In a sign of the wider impact of the Crimean referendum, parliament in the breakaway Moldovan region of Trans-Dniester announced on Tuesday that it too had appealed to Moscow for the right to join Russia, reports said.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ukraine's parliament has approved a decree on partial army mobilization

March 17 (Interfax - Ukraine) The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has approved a decree issued by acting Ukrainian President and parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchynov on partial army mobilization.
 The decision was supported by 275 out of 308 MPs registered in the session hall on Monday, an Interfax-Ukraine correspondent reported. As was earlier reported, Turchynov said he had signed a decree on partial mobilization. "I have signed a decree on partial mobilization," Turchynov said in a plenary session of the Ukrainian parliament on Monday morning.
Turchynov said the decree was signed due to the situation with the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, "with due regard to further aggression in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, which Russia is trying to hide under a great farce called a 'referendum,' which will never be recognized by either Ukraine or the whole civilized world." The Ukrainian parliament also registered a draft law approving the presidential decree on partial mobilization. In accordance with the explanatory note attached to the bill on the approval of the presidential decree, a decision on partial mobilization was made "due to the exacerbation of the sociopolitical situation on the Crimean peninsula." Partial mobilization is conducted on the territory of all regions of Ukraine and in Kyiv. In Crimea and Sevastopol, citizens subject to mobilization are citizens who have voluntarily expressed a wish to be conscripted, including by coming to military commissariats and military units. "The decree creates conditions for introducing a military time regime in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the National Guard of Ukraine, and other military units of Ukraine and civil defense operative and rescue services," the agenda says. The mobilization will be conducted for a period for 45 days from the day of enactment of the aforementioned decree.
In accordance with Article 85 of the Ukrainian Constitution, the Ukrainian parliament has the powers to approve decrees introducing martial law or states of emergency in Ukraine or in some of its regions, general or partial mobilization, and on declaring specific areas as zones of ecological emergency within two days of a request being made by the president of Ukraine.

Ukraine: Europe's major test

March 17 (BBC News Europe) The week ahead will test Europe's resolve and its ability to act over Ukraine. One senior official in Brussels said: "It is going to be a major test of European unity post-Cold War."
The EU has warned Russia of "consequences" if it does not engage in serious dialogue and pull back its forces. The EU will discuss moving to sanctions against Moscow.
So, on Monday, at a meeting of EU foreign ministers and later in the week at a EU summit they will have to ratchet up the pressure on Russia.So far the EU has made a gesture: it has suspended talks on an economic pact with Russia and an easing of visa restrictions. In Moscow those measures have been seen as little more than irritants. Both the US and the EU have said they will not recognise the result of the referendum in Crimea. French President Francois Hollande said he would not recognise "this pseudo-consultation". British Foreign Secretary William Hague said "the time has come for tougher restrictive measures to be adopted".

Pro-Russian activists held a concert in Sevastopol to celebrate the results of the Crimean referendum

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Ukraine crisis: Crimea holds secession referendum

Crimea is voting on whether to rejoin Russia or stay with Ukraine but with more autonomy. The referendum has been condemned as "illegal" by Kiev and the West but is backed by Moscow. Since the fall of Ukraine's pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych, Russian troops have in effect taken control of the majority ethnic-Russian region.Voters are expected to support leaving Ukraine, but Crimean Tatars are boycotting the poll.The BBC's Ben Brown at a polling station in the Crimean capital, Simferopol, reported a strong turnout - with 100 people arriving in the first 10 minutes after polls opened.Polling stations across Crimea opened at 08:00 local time (06:00 GMT) and will close 12 hours later.

The West has declared the vote illegal while Moscow says it will respect the outcome
A high turnout was reported in early voting at some polling stations
Crimea's authorities describe the Kiev government as "fascist", urging residents to vote for union with Russia

Russia isolated in UN Crimea vote

March 15, 2014 (BBC News Europe) Russia has vetoed a draft UN resolution criticising Sunday's secession referendum in Ukraine's Crimea region - the only Security Council member to vote against the measure. China, regarded as a Russian ally on the issue, abstained from the vote.

Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin votes against a resolution on Ukraine during a UN Security Council emergency meeting at United Nations headquarters in New York on March 15, 2014.

Anti-government demonstrations in Moscow


March 15 (BBC News Europe) On the eve of the referendum in Crimea, tens of thousands rallied in Moscow against Russia's actions in Ukraine, the biggest such protest in two years. As many as 50,000 attended the rally, with protesters shouting: "Hands off Ukraine." One man told the BBC he felt Russia was turning back to the days of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Nearby, some 15,000 supporters of President Vladimir Putin came out to support the Crimean referendum. Many of them wore identical red outfits and carried Russian and Soviet flags "We are for friendship of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples. We want to say a firm 'No' to the fascist junta that came to power in Ukraine," one man said.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Deadly clashes in east Ukraine ahead of Crimea vote

15 March 2014 (BBC News Europe)  Two people have been killed in clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian activists in Ukraine's eastern city of Kharkiv, officials say. Five people were injured overnight, as gunshots were fired. Rival groups blamed each other for the violence. Earlier, Russia and the US failed to agree on how to resolve the crisis in Ukraine's Crimea region, ahead of a secession referendum there. Russia vowed to respect Sunday's vote - but the US said it was illegitimate. Moscow has been tightening its military grip on Crimea - the southern autonomous republic in Ukraine - where voters are to decide on whether to re-join Russia or stay with Kiev.
Kharkiv has seen violent clashes between rival groups in recent days

Russia and the US have "no common vision" on the crisis in Ukraine, Russia's foreign minister has said, after talks with his US counterpart.


14 March 2014 (BBC News Europe) Russia and the US have "no common vision" on the crisis in Ukraine, Russia's foreign minister has said, after talks with his US counterpart. However Sergei Lavrov called his London meeting with John Kerry "constructive". Mr Kerry said the US was "deeply concerned" about Russia sending troops to the Ukraine border and in Crimea. Mr Lavrov said Moscow would respect the result of Sunday's referendum in Crimea on whether to join Russia but Mr Kerry said the US would not recognize it. After six hours of talks between the two men, Mr Lavrov told reporters that Russia had no plans to invade south-eastern Ukraine. Russia would "respect the will of the people of Crimea", he said.  Both men described the talks as constructive. But Mr Lavrov's phrase seems to sum up this encounter: "No common vision."
Voters in Crimea - the southern autonomous republic in Ukraine - are to decide on whether to re-join Russia or stay with Kiev. In a separate development, pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian activists clashed in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Eyewitnesses say gunfire was heard, and unconfirmed reports suggest there were casualties. This follows Thursday night's violence in Donetsk, also in the east, where at least one person died in fighting between a pro-Russian crowd and supporters of the new government in Kiev.


The two foreign ministers met amid tight security at the US ambassador's residence in London.
Read more at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26583697
 

Friday, March 14, 2014

List of military units in the 2014 Crimean crisis

The Russian federation has two types of troops. The ones that are located on the Crimean peninsula on the bases of the intergovernmental treaties and unknown soldiers, who do not carry military rank insignia or cockade as the official position of the ministry of the Russian federation is that Russia does not take part in the processes happening on the peninsula and the auxiliary troops do not belong to the Russian federation, but are based on the local initiatives. Some national signs have been traced on the basis of the Russian register plates having numbers "21" (Republick of Chuvashia) and "90" (Moscow region)
Land force
·        18th Detached Yevpatorian Red Banner Guard Motorised Rifle Brigade (Chechen Republick)
·        1st Mechanized Battalion "Vostok"
·        31st Air Assault Brigade (Airborne Forces) (Ulyanovsk)
·        76th Guards Air Assault Division (Airborne Forces) (Pskov)
·        7th Guards Airborne Division (Airborne Forces) (Novorossiisk)
·        22nd Spetsnaz Brigade (GRU) (Krasnodar Krai)
·        45th Detached Reconnaissance Regiment (Moscow)
Navy
Black Sea Fleet
·        810th Naval Infantry Brigade (Black Sea Fleet)
·        four ships purposely scuffled to block the Southern Naval Base of Ukraine
·        Important ships: “Moskva”
Baltic Fleet
Northern Fleet
Source  - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_military_units_in_the_2014_Crimean_crisis

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Ukraine Creates National Guard Ahead of Crimea Vote

March 13 (BBC News Europe) Ukraine’s parliament has voted to create a 60,000-strong National Guard to bolster the country’s defences. The vote came ahead of Sunday’s referendum in Crimea, now controlled by pro-Moscow forces, on whether citizens want to join Russia. President Vladimir Putin insists Russia is not to blame for the crisis. But Germany’s Angela Merkel says Moscow faces “massive” political and economic damage if it refuses to change course. The US has also threatened action.
The new National Guard is expected to be recruited from activists involved in the recent pro-Western protests as well as from military academies. Ukraine’s national security chief Andriy Parubiy said the Guard would be deployed to “ensure state security, defend the borders, and eliminate terrorist groups”. The Russian military and pro-Russian armed men moved in to seize key sites in Crimea – an autonomous region of Ukraine whose population is mainly ethnic Russian – in late February after the fall of President Viktor Yanukovych.
But Mr Putin told Paralympic delegates in the Black Sea port of Sochi on Thursday: “Russia was not the initiator of the circumstances that have taken shape.” But the German chancellor said on Thursday that Russia was exploiting the weakness of neighbouring Ukraine, rather than acting as a partner for stability. She has threatened an escalating series of EU measures if Russia does not relax the tension in Ukraine.
In a statement to the Bundestag, she said political and diplomatic measures, rather than military action, were the way to resolve the crisis. ”If Russia continues on its course of the past weeks, it will not only be a catastrophe for Ukraine,” she said.

Ukrainian gas tycoon Dmytro Firtash has been arrested in the Austrian capital, Vienna, police say.

Mr Firtash, one of Ukraine's richest men, is wanted by US authorities on suspicion of corruption and forming a criminal organisation. The 48-year-old was regarded one of the main backers of the ousted Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych. Austrian police said the arrest was not related to current political events in Ukraine."A national arrest order was issued for the businessman on the basis of several years of investigation by the US FBI and an arrest warrant," a police statement said. He was arrested in an area of Vienna where one of his businesses was registered, Austrian media say.
Mr Firtash is founder and chairman of Group DF, whose website describes it as an international group of companies operating across Europe and Asia in energy and banking. He also has many interests in petrochemicals and media. Mr Firtash was a powerful voice in Ukraine's economic policy circles under former President Yanukovych, who was ousted by pro-European protesters last month. Much of the anger behind the protests was fuelled by perceptions of corruption, and the alleged close links between the government and oligarchs. Mr Firtash is not named on an initial EU list of Ukrainians suspected of misusing state funds and violating human rights, and whose assets are to be frozen as a result of the crisis over the Russian takeover of Ukraine's Crimea region.

Kyiv poster exhibition calls for peace in Ukraine

March 12 (Euronews) Posters carrying strong messages calling for peace in Ukraine line a street leading to Kyiv’s Independence Square. The colourful display faces onto the barricades that still stand at Maidan.Organised by Voices of Peace, a Ukrainian designers and artists collective, this open-air exhibition in Kyiv has gathered posters created by graphic designers from 41 countries. Hanna Mikheeva, poster campaign supervisor, explained about the popularity of the exhibition amongst artists: “You can see 60 posters, but actually we received more than 200 posters from all over the world.” “We received pictures from Belarus, the USA, Russia, Ecuador and Iran,” Mikheeva added. One visitor didn’t think the posters, “will prevent Russians from invading Ukraine, but these pictures may keep up spirit of Ukrainian people!” Some posters were made into postcards carrying a simple message: “No War,” one of which was mailed to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Voices of Peace exhibition runs until April 12 in Kyiv.
See video about this exhibition at
http://www.euronews.com/2014/03/12/kyiv-poster-exhibition-calls-for-peace-in-ukraine/

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

NATO Sends 2 Surveillance Planes to Ukraine Border

GEILENKIRCHEN, Germany March 12, 2014 (AP) NATO deployed two surveillance aircraft Wednesday to monitor Ukraine's air space and Black Sea ship movements as Russia consolidated its military buildup in Crimea. NATO headquarters spokesman Lt. Col. Jay Janzen said one aircraft based in England would observe Russian air and sea movements from Polish air space, while the other based in Germany would fly over Romania. Both Poland and Romania are NATO members and border Ukraine, and Romania's Black Sea coast is only about 220 kilometers (140 miles) from the Crimean peninsula.
Janzen said the planes — both Boeing E-3 Sentry aircraft that sport a rotating radar dome above the fuselage — would be able to monitor military movements covering an area of 300,000 square kilometers (115,000 square miles) and will not leave NATO air space. "Regardless, we can observe, we can look, a very long way," he said. The Sentry is also known as AWACS, short for "airborne warning and control system," and is the main battlefield command and surveillance aircraft for NATO air forces. The 28-nation NATO alliance decided Monday to use AWACS to monitor Russia's military buildup, and the first Sentry sortie over Romania happened Tuesday, Janzen said. 

The Tuesday and Wednesday sorties had previously been planned as training flights before NATO's decision, but were then reconfigured to be part of the new mission, Janzen said. More operations are now being planned. The U.S. Air Force already has deployed extra combat fighters to NATO bases in Eastern Europe, including six F-15s last week in Lithuania and a dozen F-16s this week in Poland. Meanwhile, a U.S. Navy destroyer joined Bulgarian and Romanian naval forces in the Black Sea for exercises a few hundred miles off the Crimean peninsula. The drills on Wednesday include the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxton, the Bulgarian naval frigate Drazki and three Romanian vessels. Bulgaria's Defense Ministry said in a statement that the drills were planned in 2013 and were in no way related to the recent events in the Ukraine.
Read more at
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/nato-flying-surveillance-planes-ukraine-border-22871991

Ukraine president: Russia 'is refusing crisis talks'

Russia's leaders are refusing all negotiations with their Ukrainian counterparts, Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has said. He told AFP news agency that Ukraine would not intervene militarily in Crimea, even though a secession referendum there was a "sham". Meanwhile interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is travelling to the US to meet President Barack Obama. On Thursday he is due to address the UN Security Council in New York. 
"We cannot launch a military operation in Crimea, as we would expose the eastern border [close to Russia] and Ukraine would not be protected," Mr Turchynov told AFP.
He said that Sunday's referendum in Crimea - in which people on the peninsula will decide whether or not to become part of Russia - was "a provocation" that would be boycotted by most people. "The Russian forces don't intend to hold a referendum, they're just going to falsify the results," he said. The president said that at the same time the Russian government was refusing to enter into any dialogue with Ukraine. There has been a call for the release of missing Ukrainians. "Unfortunately, for now Russia is rejecting a diplomatic solution to the conflict," he told AFP. Mr Turchynov earlier on Tuesday called for the creation of a national guard and provide support to troops. He said that the force would include volunteers with military experience who would be on guard against external and internal aggression.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Former Ukrainian President Yanukovych blames opponents for Crimea crisis

Ukraine’s ousted president Viktor Yanukovych has blamed his opponents for the crisis in Crimea. Meanwhile, Crimea has voted in favor of adopting a declaration of independence ahead of Sunday’s referendum to join Russia. 

Speaking from Rostov-on-Don, Russia, on Tuesday, March 11 Ukraine's former leader Viktor Yanukovych restated his belief that power in Kyiv had been taken by a "band of ultranationalists and neofascists" and that presidential elections set for May 25 would be "absolutely illegitimate and illegal." In what was his first public appearance in a week, Yanukovych also blamed his opponents for the crisis on the country's Crimean peninsula, where pro-Russian troops are blockading Ukrainian soldiers. The predominately Russian-speaking region has set a referendum on joining Russia to take place on Sunday. On Tuesday, lawmakers in Crimea voted in favor of adopting a declaration of independence from Ukraine in a precursor to the referendum. Yanukovych, who surfaced in Russia after leaving Kyiv late last month, also reiterated that he was Ukraine's legitimate president and would soon return. "As soon as the circumstances allow - and I am sure there is not long to wait - I will without doubt return to Kyiv." He also lashed out against the West for acting as "protectors of the dark forces" currently in power. He argued that financial aid from the United States to the new Ukrainian government violates US statute. "Your own law gives no right to give money to bandits," he said.
Sanctions against Russia?
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has assured ex-Soviet Baltic states that NATO and the EU stand behind them amid rising tensions over the crisis in Ukraine. "I am here to say that the Baltic states will not be left alone. This is a joint problem for NATO and the EU," Steinmeier said in Tallinn, Estonia, on Tuesday, ahead of talks in neighboring Latvia and Lithuania. All three countries have large Russian minorities.
Steinmeier said the EU would rather avoid confrontation with Russia but would have to prepare a response if the country did not back down. Russia has officially denied that its troops are taking part in any blockades and have described armed men posted on the peninsula as Crimea's "self-defense" forces. His comments come as French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned that sunctions against Russia could come as early as this week if Moscow did not respond to proposals to solve the crisis. Fabius told the radio station France Inter that the planned referendum in Crimea on joining Russia would be illegal. "The only legitimate vote is that of May 25 for the president of the republic in Ukraine," he said.
Read more at
http://www.dw.de/former-ukrainian-president-yanukovych-blames-opponents-for-crimea-crisis/a-17487232

Crimea MPs vote in favour of independence from Ukraine

Ukraine’s parliament has warned Crimea’s regional assembly it will be dissolved unless it cancels a referendum over over joining Russia. Kyiv said Crimea had until wednesday to call it off. Meanwhile the Crimean Parliament stated on Tuesday it would declare itself an independent state if people vote in favour of joining Russia. It would then officially ask to become part of the Russian federation.In a secret sitting, MPs voted 78 to 3 in favour of a declaration of independence from Ukraine. The declaration cites Kosovo’s separation from Serbia as a legal precedent. 
The city of Sevastopol is also taking part in the referendum although according to the constitution of Ukraine it does not fall under the administration of Crimea but Kyiv. However it is currently occupied by pro-Russian forces and is the base of the Russian fleet.The referendum is due to be held on March 16.
More information is available at
http://www.euronews.com/2014/03/11/crimea-mps-vote-in-favour-of-independence-from-ukraine/

UKRAINE, MARCH 10, 2014 CRIMEA

Tue, 11 Mar 2014 (Embassy of Ukraine in the USA) Crimea, an integral part of Ukraine, is being occupied by foreign troops. Extremist movement fed up from outside is intensifying in eastern parts of Ukraine.

On March 10, 2014, the developments were characterized by the following:

  • Continuation of blockade of Ukraine’s Armed Forces in Crimea, extension of Russia’s military presence on the peninsula
  • Pro-Russian “puppet” government of Crimea has announced the formation of armed forces, autonomous from Ukraine  
  • In Simferopol, the forces of so-called “self-defense” under disguise of members of election commission destroy Ukrainian passports of local citizens
  • In Sevastopol, electricity was cut off at the Headquarters of Ukraine’s Naval Forces
  • In Bakhchysarai, a military unit of Ukraine’s Armed Forces was seized by Russian troops In Chornomorsk, a missile service unit of Ukraine’s Armed Forces was seized by Russian troops 
    In Novofedorivka, a base of Ukraine’s Air Forces was repeatedly assaulted and partly seized
  • On cape Tarkhankut, a radar squadron of Ukraine’s Air Force was assaulted by Russian troops 
  • In Simferopol, a military hospital was seized by so-called “self-defense” forces 
  • Participation of Russian nationalist radicals in extremist actions and provocations on the territory of Ukraine, intimidation and physical harassment of anti-war activists and journalists
  • In the village of Chongari (Kherson region), armed members of former police unit “Berkut” assaulted participants of anti-war car rally, leaving at least one person heavily wounded
  • In Lugansk, pro-Russian radicals attacked two groups of journalists destroying their equipment and seized local TV broadcasting company “IRTA”
  • In Lugansk, a man was badly beaten after installing Ukrainian flag on the building of regional administration
  • In Kharkiv, pro-Russian activists attacked Ukrainian politician Vitaliy Klychko throwing eggs and firecrackers.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mikhail Khodorkovsky slams Russia's 'historic mistake' in Ukraine

 March 10, 2014  (Agence France-Presse) Former Russian oil tycoon and top Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky criticised Moscow's interference in Ukraine on Monday, as tensions in the former Soviet state continued to rise.  "Russia's gross interference into Ukraine's revolutionary process was a historic mistake," Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade behind Russian bars, said in front of a packed crowd at Kiev's Polytechnic Institute.
Khodorkovsky spoke a day after he held an emotional speech on Independence Square, site of deadly protests that brought down the pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych. "Russia is creating a dangerous precedent for itself," he added, warning that Moscow's moves in the former Soviet state could one day be used against the Kremlin at home. A leading foe of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Khodorkovsky predicted that solving the crisis in Crimea would take "decades". Tensions in Ukraine - which began with three months of protests against the pro-Moscow regime, resulting in Yanukovych's ouster and a death toll of 100 - took a new turn with Russia effectively taking control of the strategic Black Sea peninisula of Crimea.  Crimea's pro-Russian local authorities - who are not recognised by the new government in Kiev - have now called for a referendum on March 16 on joining Russia.
On Sunday, Khodorkovsky made an impassioned speech on Independence Square, insisting that the killings there occurred "with the agreement of the Russian leadership". Khodorkovsky, 50, was once Russia's richest man and an influential tycoon with political ambitions, but was jailed in 2003 on fraud and embezzlement charges in a move Kremlin critics said was an effort by Putin to silence him.

Russian mass media has announced the next appearance on television of the former President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich


As it was reported by the Interfax News Agency (www.interfax.ru) the former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovich will make a statement in Rostov-on-Don on Tuesday March 11

Russia moves more troops into Crimea



A convoy of hundreds of Russian soldiers in about 50 troop trucks drove into a base near Crimea's capital Simferopol. The convoy was accompanied by eight armoured vehicles, two ambulances, petrol tankers and other hardware. Russia says its only troops in Crimea are those normally stationed there with its Black Sea Fleet, an assertion Washington calls "(President Vladimir) Putin's fiction". Mr Lavrov has said the Ukrainian government was taking orders from extremists and denied Moscow had any direct role in the crisis in Crimea. "The interim government... is not independent. It depends, unfortunately, on radical nationalists who carried out an armed coup," he told a news conference in Moscow. The head of Russia's upper house of parliament, after meeting visiting Crimean politicians yesterday, said that Crimea had a right to self-determination, and ruled out any risk of war between "the two brotherly nations".
However, yesterday’s incident has led Poland to evacuate its consulate in Sevastopol, according to Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski. Mr Sikorski said on Twitter: "Because of continuing disturbances by Russian forces there, we have reluctantly evacuated our consulate in Crimea, Ukraine." Senior Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, freed from prison after Viktor Yanukovych's overthrow, met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Dublin and appealed for immediate EU sanctions against Russia, warning that Crimea might otherwise slide into war. Brussels and Washington rushed to strengthen the new authorities in economically shattered Ukraine, announcing both political and financial assistance.
The regional director of the International Monetary Fund said talks with Kiev on a loan agreement were going well and praised the new government's openness to economic reform and transparency.


A Russian soldier patrols the small anti-submarine ship 'Muromets' in the port of Sevastopol
Read more at


Sunday, March 9, 2014

ARMOURED VEHICLES AND MILITARY PERSONNEL ARE BEING SENT FROM LVIV REGION



As it was reported by www.zahid.net some military vehicles including a few dozens of 8x8 wheeled armoured personnel carriers were loaded on special train in the railway station Sknyliv located close to Lviv. Photo was taken by Yurko Dyachyshyn on March 8, 2014.


Another big army convoy just left Lviv in unknown direction. The Ministry of Deffence is insisting that all armoured vehicle will be used during military field exercise without clarification where this exercise will taken place. You can see the video showing armoured personnel carriers leaving the place of their stationong at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=-GYjkWlu-1I