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Putin tells Merkel Russia's moves on Ukraine are fitting
MOSCOW, March 2 (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday that Russian citizens and Russian-speakers in Ukraine faced an "unflagging" threat from ultranationalists, and that the measures Moscow has taken were completely fitting given the "extraordinary situation", the Kremlin said.
In a telephone conversation during which Merkel expressed concern about developments in Ukraine, she and Putin agreed that Russia and Germany would continue consultations in bilateral and multilateral formats to seek the "normalization" of the situation, a Kremlin statement said.
(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Kevin Liffey)
People react as cars with Russian and Crimean flags pass by in Simferopol March 2, 2014. Ukraine mobilised for war on Sunday and Washington threatened to isolate Russia economically, after President Vladimir Putin declared he had the right to invade his neighbour, creating Moscow's biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War. Russian forces have already bloodlessly seized Crimea - an isolated Black Sea peninsula where Moscow has a naval base. On Sunday they surrounded several small Ukrainian military outposts there and demanded the Ukrainian troops disarm. Some refused, leading to standoffs, although no shots were fired. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
A military personnel member, believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands guard outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol March 2, 2014. Ukraine mobilised for war on Sunday and Washington threatened to isolate Russia economically, after President Vladimir Putin declared he had the right to invade his neighbour, creating Moscow's biggest confrontation with the West since the Cold War. Russian forces have already bloodlessly seized Crimea - an isolated Black Sea peninsula where Moscow has a naval base. On Sunday they surrounded several small Ukrainian military outposts there and demanded the Ukrainian troops disarm. Some refused, leading to standoffs, although no shots were fired. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
A Russian Navy choir member gestures during a performance in front of pro-Russian Crimeans in the port city of Sevastopol March 2, 2014. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Putin takes on West over Ukraine: Who blinks first?
By Elizabeth Piper
MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken a gamble on Ukraine and is betting that U.S. President Barack Obama will blink first.
Wounded by a personal political defeat in a battle for influence over Russia's Slavic neighbor, Putin is fighting back, and presenting the crisis as a question of symmetry.
In his view, the West "stood by" and allowed armed men to direct events in the capital Kiev - now he is "standing by" as armed men extended their control over the Crimea region.
The former KGB spy blames the West for stirring passions in Kiev, encouraging an opposition to break agreements to restore peace and allowing what Moscow calls "extremists" and "fascists" to dictate political developments in Ukraine.
Now authorized by parliament to deploy Russia's military in Ukraine to protect national interests and those of Russian citizens, Putin is taking on a West he feels has cut Moscow out of talks on the future of Russia's Orthodox Christian brothers.
How far he will go is the big question.
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By Oxana Shevel, Tufts University political scientist
Several factors make it harder to believe that Russia will be able to establish control and to effectively annex Crimea as it did with South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria. For one, the Ukrainian side so far has not made any moves that Russia can credibly present as a provocation that necessitates armed response by the Russian side to “protect” its military or its citizens, as was the case in Georgia in 2008. The new Ukrainian government leaders have called for calm, the far right Right Sector said it will not be sending its men to Crimea, and in a conciliatory gesture to Russian-speakers, acting president Turchynov today vetoed the law the Ukrainian parliament adopted several days earlier repealing the 2012 law elevating the status of the Russian language. With the Security Council in session to discuss events in Crimea and Western leaders urging restraint and warning Russia that violations of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity are unacceptable, there is hope that a diplomatic solution to the crisis could be found.
Reuters: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemns Russia's “incredible act of aggression” in Ukraine
Ukrainian people take part in a rally against Russia in front of the U.S. embassy in Kiev March 1, 2014. NATO ambassadors will meet in Brussels on Sunday to discuss the situation in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen tweeted on Saturday. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
Storyful BlogWith unidentified military units seizing two major airports in Crimea on February 28, residents of the peninsula posted videos of a large-scale helicopter overflight. The implication was that the aircraft involved were Russian and that they were involved in an extraterritorial action not ...
Reuters Picture: Armed men patrol at the airport in Simferopol, Crimea February 28, 2014. Armed men took control of two airports in the Crimea region on Friday in what the new Ukrainian leadership described as an invasion by Moscow's forces, and ousted President Viktor Yanukovich surfaced in Russia after a week on the run. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili
Conciliatory words hide Putin's anger over Ukraine
At almost midnight and with little fanfare, the Kremlin put out a statement outlining President Vladimir Putin's orders on Ukraine - and they were as conciliatory as earlier Russian announcements had been confrontational.
Ordering his government to work with Ukrainian and foreign partners to find a financial package to shore up Ukraine's collapsing finances, Putin struck a measured note compared to the military muscle-flexing of other officials, who had put thousands of Russian troops on high alert.
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EU team to visit Ukraine to examine financial needs
A small team of financial experts from the European Commission will travel to Ukraine on Monday to assess exactly how much financial assistance it needs, EU officials said on Friday.
The team from the Commission's directorate-general for economic and financial affairs is expected to meet Ukrainian finance ministry and central bank officials to determine what the country's budget shortfall and capital needs are.
"The first thing we need to do is to understand precisely how much they need," said a senior official briefed on the visit. "There are a lot of numbers being thrown around and it isn't helping to clarify the situation."
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Ukrainian International Airline says it has cancelled flights to Crimea because "airspace is closed"
Airport in Ukraine's Crimea refusing Kiev flights: Interfax
MOSCOW - The international airport in Simferopol, the main city in Ukraine's Crimea region, is not allowing flights from the national capital Kiev following the airport's takeover by armed men, Interfax news agency reported on Friday.
The report could not immediately be confirmed. Contacted by telephone, an airport information official said only one flight from Kiev had been delayed but other flights had been coming and going from Simferopol without any problems.
(Reporting By Natalia Zinets, Writing by Sabina Zawadzki, Editing by Timothy Heritage)
Reuters Picture: Petro Poroshenko (C), member of Ukraine's parliament and one of the leaders of the anti-Yanukovich opposition, speaks to the media upon his arrival at the airport in Simferopol, Crimea February 28, 2014. Armed men have extended their control at a military airport in Ukraine's Crimea region on Friday by taking over the runway, Interfax news agency quoted a military source as saying. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov accused Russian naval forces of taking over the military airport, near the port of Sevastopol, where the Black Sea fleet has a base, and other Russian forces of seizing Simferopol's civilian international airport. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili
Armed men patrol at the Simferopol airport in the Crimea region February 28, 2014. REUTERS/Baz Ratner
U.S., NATO do not have contingency plans for Ukraine - commander
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Neither the United States nor NATO has drawn up contingency plans for how they would respond if Russia were to intervene militarily in Ukraine's Crimea, NATO's top military commander said on Thursday.
U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, who is also the commander of U.S. forces in Europe, said in an interview with Reuters and The Wall Street Journal that NATO had not changed the deployment of any military assets in response to tensions over Ukraine.
Asked if he was concerned about the possibility of a Russian military intervention in Crimea, Breedlove said: "I think everybody might be concerned about that but right now that is not my primary concern."
"Right now we are not planning contingencies on how to respond here. What we are doing is supporting the peaceful resolution of this business," Breedlove said.
Russia puts 150, 000 troops on high alert for war games near Ukraine. Paul Chapman reports
Ukraine summons Russian envoy, wants talks with Moscow
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Ukraine's Foreign Ministry summoned Russia's acting envoy in Kiev on Thursday and called for immediate consultations with Moscow following the seizure of the regional government and parliament buildings in Crimea.
It said in a written statement that the envoy, Andrei Vorobyov, had been handed a note requesting that Russian military based in the Crimean port of Sevastopol stay on base.
Russia recalled its ambassador from Kiev for consultations in Moscow after parliament stripped President Viktor Yanukovich of his powers on Saturday. The armed men in Crimea have raised the Russian flag over the regional government and parliament buildings, indicating they may be ethnic Russian separatists.
People attend a rally in Independence Square in Kiev, February 26, 2014. REUTERS/Konstantin Chernichkin
Ukrainian men help pull one another out of a stampede as a flag of Crimea is seen during clashes at rallies held by ethnic Russians and Crimean REUTERS/Baz Ratner
Poland says seizure of Crimea govt offices a "dangerous step"
WARSAW (Reuters) - The seizure of government buildings by armed men in Ukraine's Crimea region could lead to a regional conflict, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said on Thursday.
"This is a drastic step and I'm warning those who did this and those who allowed them to do this, because this is how regional conflicts begin. This is a very dangerous game," Sikorski told a news conference.
Russian, NATO generals discuss Ukraine
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's senior general and the top NATO military commander spoke by telephone on Monday and expressed concern over the upheaval in Ukraine, the Interfax news agency cited the Russian Defence Ministry as saying.
"The two sides expressed concern over the situation in Ukraine," Interfax quoted the ministry as saying after the conversation between U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, and General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the general staff of Russia's armed forces.
Russia says doubts legitimacy of Ukrainian authorities
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's prime minister voiced grave doubts on Monday over the legitimacy of the authorities in Ukraine after President Viktor Yanukovich's ouster, criticising Western states for recognising officials he said came to power in an "armed mutiny".
In some of Russia's strongest statements condemning the toppling of the Moscow-backed leader, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made clear he was not yet ready to engage with the former opposition figure appointed acting leader by parliament.
"We do not understand what is going on there. There is a real threat to our interests and to the lives of our citizens," Medvedev was quoted as telling Russian news agencies, explaining why Moscow had recalled its Kiev ambassador on Sunday.
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Ukrainians gather in D.C. to honor those killed back home
New Ukraine leaders say Yanukovich wanted for mass murder
By Natalia Zinets and Alessandra Prentice
KIEV - Fugitive Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, ousted after bloody street protests in which demonstrators were shot by police snipers, is wanted for mass murder, authorities announced on Monday.
Self-proclaimed protectors of Kiev look to Ukraine's east
By Alessandra Prentice
Some wear black balaclavas and grubby army fatigues, others wield spiked iron clubs, all united in a common goal to protect Kiev in the power vacuum following the ouster of president Viktor Yanukovich.
This self-styled defence force also has designs beyond the capital.
In the months of anti-government protests that culminated in fatal gun battles and the fall of the president, a hard core of demonstrators has coalesced into units of about 100 men, forming the vanguard of the fight to bring down Yanukovich and recalibrate Ukraine towards Europe.
It was these groups, known as 'sotnyi', that took control of Yanukovich's offices after he fled the capital late on Friday.
Their men continue to patrol the streets, standing guard outside state buildings or marching two-by-two through the crowds on Kiev's Independence Square, widely known as Maidan and the crucible of an East-West tug-of-war over this country of 46 million.
On Institutska street, the site of some of the bloodiest fighting of last week's clashes, two flak-jacketed 'defenders of Maidan' controlled the entrance to Ukraine's Central Bank, a central pillar of its teetering economy.
"Kiev is still under threat," said one of them, who gave his name as Ruslan, a portly 43-year-old taxi driver from western Ukraine, the engine-room of Ukraine's pro-European movement.
"We have to stand here because the money for rebuilding all of this will be coming out of our pockets, via this bank," he said, clutching a wooden baseball bat.
Down the street, helmeted men in second-hand camouflage gear linked arms in a human barricade to stop curious passers-by from entering the presidential administration building.
Ukraine calls for aid, says needs $35 billion in next two years
KIEV - Ukraine said on Monday it needed $35 billion (£21 billion) in foreign assistance over the next two years and appealed for urgent aid following the overthrow of its president.
The Finance Ministry said it had called for a donor's conference and needed the first aid in the next week or two.
Acting President Oleksander Turchinov, appointed after Viktor Yanukovich was stripped of his powers by parliament on Saturday, said on Sunday Ukraine was near default and the economy was falling into an abyss.
"Over the past two days, we have had consultations and meetings with the EU and U.S. ambassadors and other countries and financial institutions on the urgent delivery of macro-financial assistance for Ukraine," Acting Finance Minister Yuri Kolobov said in a statement.
He said the international donor conference should involve representatives of the European Union, the United States and the International Monetary Fund.
Ukraine faces state debt payments of around $6 billion in the remainder of this year.
In an address to the nation, Turchinov on Sunday spelled out the enormity of the task facing Ukraine's new leadership, and identified stabilising the economy as a priority.
"Against the background of global economic recovery, the Ukrainian economy is heading into the abyss and is in a pre-default state," he said.
"The task of the new government is to stop the country's slide into the abyss, to stabilize the exchange rate, guarantee the timely payment of salaries, pensions and stipends, and to regain the confidence of investors, promote the development of enterprises and the creation of new jobs."
The Ukrainian currency, the hyrvnia, fell about 2.4 percent against the U.S. dollar in early trading on Monday.
(Reporting By Pavel Polityuk, Editing by Timothy Heritage)
U.S. gasoline rose almost 12 cents over two weeks
Feb 23 (Reuters) - The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose almost 12 cents over the past two weeks as violent crises in three areas of the world heightened concerns in the oil market.
A gallon of regular grade gasoline increased 11.67 cents to an average retail price of $3.41, according to the Lundberg survey released on Sunday. In the previous two-week period, the price had declined by less than two cents per gallon.
Developments in three global hot spots in Ukraine, Venezuela and South Sudan caused U.S. wholesale gasoline prices to "zoom up," said Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the survey.
She said she expects the rise in wholesale prices to add yet a few more pennies to the price at the pump.
Even with the latest increase, the current price is lower than a year ago, when the average price for a gallon of gasoline was $3.79.
The lowest price for a gallon of regular gas in the survey was found in Billings, Montana, where the average price was $3.08. The highest price, $3.82 per gallon, was found in San Diego.
(Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)
ReutersWASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials insisted on Sunday that Ukraine should remain unified and cautioned that any military intervention by Russia would be a mistake after bloody street protests ousted
euronewsGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin have talked on the phone in a call initiated by Angela Merkel. It’s reported the chancellor’s office said both…
theGrioNBC News - National Security Adviser Susan Rice said “the United States is on the side of the Ukrainian people” and wants to see democratic elections.
ABC NewsCash: $12 million. Decoration of a dining hall and tea room: $2.3 million. Statue of a wild boar: $115,000. "A bribe": $4,000. These are some of the expenses detailed in financial documents found in President Viktor Yanukovych's abandoned residence, which was occupied by protesters after...
European governments, reacting to fast-moving events in Ukraine and the ouster of its president, revived plans to offer a large aid package to the country—but insisted funds would come only with pledges of major economic overhauls.
People light candles during a religious service at a church in Kiev February 23, 2014. Ukraine's new rulers, just 24 hours after ousting President Viktor Yanukovich, began speedily to unstitch his power structure on Sunday, appointing a provisional leader to replace him and sacking his key ministers. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili
People attend a religious service at a church in Kiev February 23, 2014. Ukraine's new rulers, just 24 hours after ousting President Viktor Yanukovich, began speedily to unstitch his power structure on Sunday, appointing a provisional leader to replace him and sacking his key ministers. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili
EU's Ashton to travel to Ukraine on Monday, will discuss economyBRUSSELS, Feb 23 (Reuters) - European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will travel to Ukraine on Monday, where she is expected to discuss measures to shore up the ailing economy, the EU said on Sunday."In Kiev she is expected to meet key stakeholders and discuss the support of the European Union for a lasting solution to the political crisis and measures to stabilise the economic situation," an EU statement said.The EU has said it is prepared to offer economic support to Ukraine but it would be conditional on the country reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop)
MOSCOW Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that Russia would send ideas to Washington within a week to follow up his talks with U.S. President Joe Biden on the Ukraine crisis.