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WORLD
March 17, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree recognizing Crimea as a "sovereign and independent government" following a controversial vote on the Russian-occupied peninsula to secede from Ukraine, the Kremlin news service announced late Monday. The swift official recognition of the vote Sunday engineered by Russian nationalists installed in the regional leadership just two weeks ago was likely to inflame an already tense standoff between the Kremlin and an interim leadership in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, which branded the secession vote illegal and provocative.
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WORLD
April 9, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams and Sergei L. Loiko
MOSCOW -- As armed standoffs persisted in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin tightened the economic screws on his impoverished neighbor Wednesday by warning that Ukraine may have to pay in advance for its gas imports from Russia. The predominantly state-held Gazprom energy behemoth last week raised prices for Ukrainian purchases of its natural gas by 80%, canceling a discount that had been extended to Kremlin-allied former President Viktor Yanukovich last year. Russian lawmakers also voted last week to revoke another discount on gas exports to Ukraine that had been in place as part of a lease agreement between the two former Soviet republics that gave Moscow control over the Sevastopol naval base until 2042.
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WORLD
April 9, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams and Sergei L. Loiko
MOSCOW -- As armed standoffs persisted in eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin tightened the economic screws on his impoverished neighbor Wednesday by warning that Ukraine may have to pay in advance for its gas imports from Russia. The predominantly state-held Gazprom energy behemoth last week raised prices for Ukrainian purchases of its natural gas by 80%, canceling a discount that had been extended to Kremlin-allied former President Viktor Yanukovich last year. Russian lawmakers also voted last week to revoke another discount on gas exports to Ukraine that had been in place as part of a lease agreement between the two former Soviet republics that gave Moscow control over the Sevastopol naval base until 2042.
WORLD
April 3, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams
The European Aviation Safety Agency on Thursday warned pilots to avoid entering airspace over Ukraine's Russian-occupied Crimea region "due to the unsafe situation" of two national air traffic control services claiming to direct aircraft in the area. In a safety bulletin issued by the agency's headquarters in Cologne, Germany, the European Union-initiated flight safety oversight authority said it was reacting to Russian government notices to aviators that Moscow's air traffic control system was taking over responsibility for flight management in the region.
WORLD
March 6, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
YEVPATORIA, Ukraine -- Russian troops have at least temporarily lifted their blockade of several Ukrainian military installations in Crimea, commanders said Thursday. “Wednesday late at night the Russian paratroopers which deployed all over our base suddenly packed and went away,” said Lt. Col. Olexandr Lomako, deputy commander of Ukraine's anti-aircraft regiment stationed in Yevpatoria, a resort city about 60 miles northeast of Sevastopol. “But when leaving, their commander said that they will be back.” The Yevpatoria unit was one of many surrounded or invaded by unidentified gunmen last weekend as heavily armed troops in Russian military fatigues and Russian-registered vehicles moved onto the peninsula to take control of the airport, bases and other key installations.
WORLD
February 28, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams and Sergei L. Loiko
MOSCOW -- Armed Russian men in unmarked military uniforms took up positions at Crimea's main airport in Simferopol early Friday, and there were reports that Russian naval forces had taken control of the military airport in Sevastopol, Moscow's leased base for its Black Sea fleet. Dozens of rifle-toting men, many of them masked, were patrolling the parking lot and entrance of the Simferopol airport, news agencies in the Russian-dominated Ukrainian territory reported. Ukraine's acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov , accused Russian nationalist militants of attempting " an armed invasion and occupation ," Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported, citing Avakov 's Facebook page.
WORLD
March 5, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
YEVPATORIA, Ukraine - An anti-submarine boat may have been the first casualty of the Russian incursion into Crimea, but it was hardly an act of violence, much less war: The Russian navy sank one of its own, junked vessels to create an obstacle, a Ukrainian official said Wednesday. Ukraine Defense Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Alexei Mazepa said Russian sailors pulled the anti-submarine vessel Ochakov out of a naval junkyard and sank it in the straits that connect the Black Sea with a body of water known as Donuzlav Lake.
WORLD
March 19, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
MOSCOW - Ukrainian forces at two naval facilities in Crimea reported Wednesday that they were attacked by gunmen linked to Russia in violation of an earlier promise to give them until Friday to leave the breakaway region. Later in the day, a Ukrainian official said that his government was making plans for the possible evacuation of its military personnel from the peninsula. Ukrainian forces in Crimea have largely been surrounded and barricaded by Russian troops and pro-Russia militia who seized control of the region late last month.
WORLD
February 28, 2014 | By Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons
WASHINGTON - President Obama said Friday that he is “deeply concerned” by reports of Russian military activity within Ukraine and warned “there will be costs” for any intervention, urging Moscow to use restraint as the former Soviet state struggles to forge a new government. “Any violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing, which is not in the interests of Ukraine, Russia or Europe,” Obama said in an unscheduled statement from the White House briefing room.
WORLD
April 3, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams
The European Aviation Safety Agency on Thursday warned pilots to avoid entering airspace over Ukraine's Russian-occupied Crimea region "due to the unsafe situation" of two national air traffic control services claiming to direct aircraft in the area. In a safety bulletin issued by the agency's headquarters in Cologne, Germany, the European Union-initiated flight safety oversight authority said it was reacting to Russian government notices to aviators that Moscow's air traffic control system was taking over responsibility for flight management in the region.
WORLD
April 1, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams
NATO foreign ministers suspended civilian and military cooperation with Russia on Tuesday and ordered plans for bolstering defenses in Eastern Europe to show the Kremlin that it will protect allies in the region from any further Russian aggression, alliance sources told news agencies in Brussels. In their first meeting since Russia occupied and annexed Ukraine's Crimea territory, the top diplomats from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 28 member states closed ranks in unanimously voting to increase pressure on Moscow to cease massing troops on Ukraine's border.
WORLD
March 19, 2014 | By Paul Richter and Sergei L. Loiko
WASHINGTON - Frustrated by the failure of Western sanctions and diplomacy to stop Russia from seizing Crimea, the Obama administration and its allies scrambled Wednesday to devise new and tougher economic penalties in hope of preventing President Vladimir Putin from moving forces into Ukraine's eastern territory. A day after Putin signed a treaty to annex Crimea, U.S. officials acknowledged that Ukraine has lost the region. Pro-Russia forces seized control of two Ukrainian naval bases in the Black Sea peninsula on Wednesday, including the naval headquarters in Sevastopol.
WORLD
March 19, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
MOSCOW - Ukrainian forces at two naval facilities in Crimea reported Wednesday that they were attacked by gunmen linked to Russia in violation of an earlier promise to give them until Friday to leave the breakaway region. Later in the day, a Ukrainian official said that his government was making plans for the possible evacuation of its military personnel from the peninsula. Ukrainian forces in Crimea have largely been surrounded and barricaded by Russian troops and pro-Russia militia who seized control of the region late last month.
NEWS
March 18, 2014 | By Maeve Reston
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday that the U.S. must do more to encourage energy independence in Europe to guard against further aggression by Russian President Vladimir Putin. "What Putin did is illegal; it is against international law,” Clinton said during a speech in Montreal a short time after Putin signed treaties with Crimea's Moscow-backed leaders appropriating the region, including its naval port of Sevastopol, after a weekend referendum.
WORLD
March 17, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams
Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree recognizing Crimea as a "sovereign and independent government" following a controversial vote on the Russian-occupied peninsula to secede from Ukraine, the Kremlin news service announced late Monday. The swift official recognition of the vote Sunday engineered by Russian nationalists installed in the regional leadership just two weeks ago was likely to inflame an already tense standoff between the Kremlin and an interim leadership in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, which branded the secession vote illegal and provocative.
WORLD
March 17, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
NOVOFEDOROVKA, Ukraine - As Crimea was declaring its independence from Ukraine on Monday and looking forward to once again becoming part of mother Russia, thousands of Ukrainian servicemen stationed on the peninsula were pondering hard options and awaiting instructions from Kiev. If some Crimeans were jubilant over the results of a Sunday referendum backing independence, the members of the Ukrainian brigade with a navy air unit stationed in this small town were full of concerns. They faced options that could forever change their families' lives, leaving some to choose whether to betray their homeland, their oath of allegiance and their officers' honor, said Col. Igor Bedzay, the unit commander.
WORLD
February 26, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams, This post has been updated and corrected. See the notes below for details
MOSCOW -- Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered a test of the “battle readiness” of military forces deployed in the western and central areas of the country, a likely show of Kremlin muscle to reassure ethnic Russians in Ukraine that their rights and interests will be defended. The announcement of the “immediate and thorough” readiness exercises was made by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu and reported by the Interfax news agency. “Putin ordered confirmation of troop capabilities for action in the event of a crisis situation that presents a threat to the military security of the country,” as well as anti-terrorism and emergency response readiness, Shoigu was quoted as saying by Interfax.
WORLD
February 25, 2014 | By Carol J. Williams, This post has been updated and corrected. See the notes below for details.
MOSCOW -- Ukraine's acting president said Tuesday that it would be at least two more days before an interim government is in place as further negotiations are needed to ensure that a genuine “coalition of national faith” agrees to see the divided country through to May 25 elections. Interim President Olexander Turchynov made the announcement to the parliament now dominated by opposition figures and defected members of fugitive ex-President Viktor Yanukovich's Party of Regions.
WORLD
March 16, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
PEREVALNE, Ukraine - Shortly after hundreds of polling stations opened across the breakaway Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea on Sunday, it became increasingly clear that after 23 years of being part of the Ukraine Crimean peninsula washed by the Black Sea in its south made albeit an illegitimate but quite effective leap toward rejoining Russia, to which Crimea had belonged for over three centuries before. The referendum, declared illegal by the Interim Government in Kiev and by all the Western powers, would have hardly happened at all without the impressive assistance of Russian armed forces which have de facto occupied the breakaway peninsula since the end of February, when the  heavily armed Russian commandos captured the government and parliament buildings in the regional capital of Simferopol and installed the pro-Kremlin government, immediately asking for military and economic assistance from Russia.
WORLD
March 16, 2014 | By Sergei L. Loiko
PEREVALNE, Ukraine - Crimean voters went to the polls Sunday to decide whether to end their decades-long ties to Ukraine in a referendum rejected as illegal by the nation's leaders in Kiev and most Western powers. Balloting was being carried out under the watchful eyes of Russian forces and pro-Russia militia who largely seized control of the peninsula late last month. “The referendum will pass the way the Crimean people choose and it will be inexorable and categorical,” Sergei Aksenov, the region's new pro-Russia premier, wrote Sunday in his Twitter account before the polls opened.
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