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Ukrainian crisis: March 5 (live updates)

LB.ua chronicles the latest events in Ukraine in English for foreign readers.

Ukrainian crisis: March 5 (live updates)
Unarmed Ukrainian soldiers recapturing airport 'Belbek' near Sevastopol from Russian military
Фото: EPA/UPG

Read previous news on the topic:

Ukrainian crisis: March 3

Ukrainian crisis: March 4

On March 1 Russian President Vladimir Putin secured permission from his parliament to use military force to protect Russian citizens in Ukraine and told U.S. President Barack Obama he had the right to defend Russian interests and nationals, spurning Western pleas not to intervene. While Russian military continues bloodlessly seizing Ukrainian military units and other objects in Crimea, Ukraine's security council ordered the general staff to immediately put all armed forces on highest alert. Thus, the Defence Ministry was ordered to stage a call-up of reserves. So far, the Western response to Russia's aggression has been largely symbolic. Thus, on March 2 Barack Obama and others suspended preparations for a G8 summit in Sochi. Some countries also recalled their ambassadors from Russia.

Now everyone is waiting on whether Russia makes a military move in predominantly Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine, where pro-Moscow demonstrators have marched and raised Russian flags over public buildings in several cities in the last few days.

00:07. Ukrainian opposition politician Yulia Tymoshenko, twice Ukraine's prime minister, believes the current government of Ukraine is legitimate, and the statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin about anti-constitutional coup is a 'subjective assessment of the Russian president'.

'It's only his subjective assessment. Ukrainian authorities today are absolutely legitimate. These authorities were established by the will of the people. These authorities are recognized by the whole democratic world, and they now work and stabilize Ukraine after the crisis and dislocation left after dictatorship', she stressed.

'The Kremlin needs to stop considering Ukraine as its slave territory', added Tymoshenko.

00:24. Only Viktor Yanukovich could give orders to shoot at Euromaidan protesters, says a result of the investigation by the TVi channel.

Colonel Sergei Asavelyuk should be one of the main suspects in a criminal investigation of the massacre at Institutska Street, as well as officers of 'Alpha' special unit, said the journalistic investigation.

00:33. Acting Mayor of Uzhgorod Victor Schadey received a knife wound and was hospitalized to the intensive care ward of the city hospital, wrote lawmaker Viktor Baloga on Facebook.

'In this case I see a clear attempt of reprisals against one of the most active participants of Euromaidan in Kyiv and Uzhgorod. Urgently stop this thuggery', said the MP addressing the Ukrainian authorities.

00:54. Canada has suspended its military cooperation with Russia over the recent events in Ukraine, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.

'This includes exercises, such as NORAD’s Exercise Vigilant Eagle, and scheduled meetings', he noted.

01:37. Ukrainian military air defence missile regiment in Evpatoria surrendered their weapons and are standing on its guard to avoid provocations, stated commander of the regiment Colonel Andriy Matvienko, reports LB.ua special correspondent from the scene.

08:24. Recognized by court as a non-legitimate, the government of Crimea is not ready to negotiate with representatives of the Verkhovna Rada, because it doesn't consider the Ukrainian authorities as a legitimate power, told reporters on Tuesday night non-legitimate chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea Sergei Aksenov.

08:40. About 30 people held a rally against war and in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine on the evening of March 4 on the waterfront in Yalta (Crimea), reported LB.ua correspondent (pictures).

Rally against war and in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine in Yalta

08:58. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has told EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton an EU-brokered agreement signed on February 21 should be the basis for stabilizing the situation in Ukraine. He said the agreement foresaw constitutional reform which would take into account the wishes of all regions in Ukraine.

09:17. The Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine gave an order to special forces who carry out the operational-search activity, to detain Admiral Denis Berezovsky, who moved to the Russian side after being appointed a commander of the Ukrainian Navy.

09:33. Ukrainian border guards on Tuesday, March 5, prevented 337 Russian citizens from entering Ukraine, four of them were denied entry to Ukraine, reported the press service of the State Border Service of Ukraine.

The Service also described in detail a detention of Russian citizen, who was heading to Crimea to participate in activities of destabilizing nature. During the filtration activities border guards discovered he had a military ID of special purpose troops commander of the Russian Federation. Also, they discovered a text message in his cellphone, saying: 'Going to Crimea, and from there to the front - to fight. Just in case - say I'm sick'.

09:47. Russian military on the night of March 5 destroyed objects of air defence missile regiment of the Ukrainian military unit at Cape Phiolent (Sevastopol, Crimea), wrote head of the Crimean media center of the Defence Ministry Vladislav Seleznev on Facebook.

10:07. Minister of Youth and Sports of Ukraine Dmitry Bulatov has announced boycott to Paralympic Games, which will be held in Sochi (Russia). Russian aggression towards Ukraine is the main reason for his decision. At the same time, the Ukrainian team has not yet made the decision.

10:22. Russian lawmakers are working on a draft law to allow the confiscation of property, assets and accounts of European or U.S. companies if sanctions are imposed on Russia over Ukraine.

10:33. The total debt of the Ukrainian companies to seven Russian banks at the beginning of this year was about $9.7 billion, writes Russian 'Kommersant' referring to the financial statements of banks.

10:36. Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said that the first priority of the Ukrainian government is to reform local government. He also added that 'rights should be given to the regions'.

10:42. Arseny Yatsenyuk said that all social obligations of the state budget before Crimea will be fulfilled. Thus, Ukraine's parliament will continue paying salaries and pensions.

10:47. Sberbank of Russia, which had stopped issuing loans to individuals and companies on Feb. 20 to stop, partially reversed this decision. In particular, the bank lifted restrictions on consumer loans.

10:58. The Cabinet of Ministers will allocate additional funding for payments to servicemen in order 'to encourage heroes of Ukraine', Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said at a government meeting.

11:07. The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation declared internationally wanted leader of the Ukrainian nationalist 'Praviy sector' ('Right sector') civil movement Dmitry Yarosh. He is charged with incitement to terrorist activities.

11:26. The Cabinet of Ministers has decided to sell 1.5 thousand of departmental vehicles, stated Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak at a government meeting.

11:31. Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said that the right of Ukrainians to speak Russian will not be infringed, and thus Eastern Ukraine may be calm.

11:33. Russian President Vladimir Putin perceived the removal of Viktor Yanukovich from power in Ukraine as his personal defeat, says the Gorshenin Institute expert Evgeniy Kurmashov at a round table in the Institute.

11:41. The number of deceased protesters in Ukraine, starting from November 30, has increased to 99 people, reports the press service of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine.

11:57. Russia's military actions in Crimea are the realization of its foreign fears, said political analyst Yuri Romanenko at round table in the Gorshenin Institute.

12:14. The U.S. Embassy in Russia has published is explanations to clarify the situation in Ukraine, in which it by points denies accusations by the Russian Federation against the new Ukrainian authorities.

Setting the Record Straight on Ukraine (March 4, 2014). The text of the document is pretty big and is available at the link

12:16. The Central Bank of Russia on Monday sold $11.2 billion on the foreign exchange market to keep the ruble from collapse provoked by the Russian military aggression in Crimea. This is evidenced by the Central Bank materials, reports Lenta.ru.

12:23. The position of Europe on Russia's invasion of Ukraine is significantly influenced by the fact that 30% of the gas in the EU is Russian, vice president of the Gorshenin Institute Alexei Leshenko said.

12:38. Ukraine raised its flag on Wednesday over the government headquarters in Donetsk where a Russian flag had stood for five days, witnesses said, an important signal of shifting control in the Russian-speaking east.

12:49. Russian Defenсe Minister Sergei Shoigu said that armed men in unmarked military uniforms in Crimea have nothing to do with the Russian army.

'Complete nonsense', Shoigu told journalists, ITAR-TASS reported.

12:50. Imposition of sanctions against Russia by the EU and the U.S. can only be effective in the long term, says political analyst Alexander Paly.

13:02. Russia's Ministry of Transport estimated construction of a bridge from Russia to Crimea through the Kerch Strait at 50 billion rubles (about $ 1.4 billion). The construction will last for at least 3.5 years.

13:11. The Center for Social and Marketing Research 'SOCIS' published the rating of the presidential candidates, according to which the individual MP Petro Poroshenko is leading by a considerable margin. His closest pursuer, Vitali Klitschko, has more than 6 percentage points less.

13:30. The key task of the central government in Kyiv is to handle the situation, otherwise there is a risk of losing Ukraine as a state, says political analyst Yuri Romanenko.

13:31. Secretary of the National Security and Defence Andriy Paruby declared that Russia is trying to redeploy its troops in Crimea so that the OSCE mission there doesn't record their presence.

13:36. The European Union is ready to provide 11 billion euros ($15 billion) of financial support to Ukraine over the next couple of years via a series of loans and grants, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday.

13:53. The Verkhovna Rada has registered bill on the course of Ukraine to join NATO. The document suggests to amend a law 'On the principles of domestic and foreign policy'.

14:10. The Ministry of Finance has offered to cancel tax breaks for IT-companies, says a draft plan developed by the Finance Ministry.

14:17. Secretary of the National Security and Defence Andriy Paruby offers the Verkhovna Rada to legalize the activities of Euromaidan self-defence.

14:31. Military observers from the United States, Germany, and Switzerland will be sent to Ukraine on request of Kyiv, reported in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). This tool is provided by the Vienna Document on Confidence-and Security.

14:37. The European Union is ready to unilaterally abolish import duties for Ukrainian goods, without waiting for the creation of a free trade zone, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said.

14:39. Pro-Russian activists in Crimea are picketing the hotel 'Ukraine' in Simferopol, where the meeting of the OSCE Representative on Freedom Dunja Mijatovic, local media, community leaders and government officials is held, reports LB.ua correspondent from the place (pictures).

14:46. President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday he did not want political tension to detract from economic cooperation with Russia's "traditional partners", signaling he hopes to avoid spillover from a bitter dispute with the West over Ukraine.

'We are seeing known political tension, it should not affect our current economic cooperation', Putin told cabinet members.

'It's not necessary to add to the difficult situation, we need to cooperate with all our traditional partners - while providing for our own interests, of course', he said.

'It is not necessary to whip things up and place political considerations on top of issues of economic cooperation'.

14:49. The Cabinet of Ministers decided to inventory all state residences, cottages, holiday homes and other property to sell them, Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak said at a briefing in the Cabinet.

14:58. The Cabinet overturned 42 state programs with the total financing of $48 billion, Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak said.

15:09. There is a hand combat in front of the Sea Guard Brigade in Balaclava (Crimea). Ukrainian officers are trying to regain control of the military unit.

15:23. The Finance Ministry expects to receive about UAH 40 million ($5 million) from the sale of 1.500 government vehicles, said Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak. Thus, it turns out that the average cost of the car will be about 27 thousand UAH ($3 thousand). This price is pretty low for Ukraine.

15:24. The Cabinet has reduced the number of employees of the Presidential Administration by 65 people, and of the apparatus of the National Security and Defence by 90 people, Finance Minister Oleksandr Shlapak said. Discussion continues on reducing the number of ministries and departments, he added.

15:51. The Council of the European Union decided to freeze the assets of 18 former Ukrainian officials.

'The decision concerns the persons responsible for the misuse of the Ukrainian state funds. The Decision and list of persons - subject to sanctions - will be published in the Official Journal of the EU tomorrow, March 6', stated the press service of the Council.

The decision will come into force on the date of its publication. Its initial duration is 12 months.

15:55. Today bases and units of the Naval forces in Crimea remain cut off from the means of livelihood, 'cause pro-Russian demonstrators and Russian military keep turning off the lights, water, block entrances to military units, reports the press service of the Defence Ministry.

16:13. Australian authorities have allowed the Ukrainian citizens temporarily residing in the territory of the country, to request an extension of their visas till the situation in Ukraine is stabilized.

16:15. 'Regarding the resolution of the conflict in Crimea, I am optimistic. Once Ukrainian military understand that Putin can't (!) give an order to shoot, they can easily gently push out the Russian contingent. The way Ukrainian soldiers did it in Balaclava this morning', the Gorshenin Institute President Vadim Omelchenko said in an exclusive comment to LB.ua (video).

16:16. 10 member states of the OSCE are sending 35 unarmed soldiers to Ukraine at the invitation of Kyiv, to clarify Kyiv's concerns regarding 'unusual military activities' in the country, says a statement published on Wednesday on the OSCE website.

16:32. The United Nations will make every effort to identify all the facts of human rights violations and serious crimes in Crimea, Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson said at a press conference in Kyiv.

16:42. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters that "regrettably" one member, Russia, had not appeared for a meeting of the so-called Budapest agreement group, which involves Washington, London, Moscow and Kiev.

16:48. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been nominated for the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize - but the conflict in Ukraine is also likely to be on the Nobel committee's agenda, reports Reuters.

16:53. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development stands ready to support the economy of Ukraine with investments of at least €5 billion over the period until 2020 as part of a coordinated international financial assistance programme in support of credible structural and macroeconomic reforms.

That €5 billion amount could be exceeded if economic circumstances permit.

17:01. Kherson Regional Council condemned separatism and supported the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Local lawmakers adopted this statement by 46 votes on Wednesday, reports the press service of the regional council.

17:12. According to operative data, during the last 24 hours five Russian warship unloaded in Crimea. Up to 300 people and 20 motor vehicles from each, wrote head of the Center for Military-Political Studies Dmitry Tymchuk on Facebook. 

17:14. Participants of the pro-Russian rally stormed the building of Donetsk Regional Council once again. Police attempted to stem the tide by using shields, but people managed to move them aside and enter the building.

17:16. Airports in Odesa and Borispil are still served by firms that send funds earned by the airports to the accounts of the 'family' - Viktor Yanukovich's clan and separatists movements, individual MP Sergey Mishchenko said.

17:41. The Verkhovna Rada MP, former head of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people Mustafa Dzhemilev said that sometimes it's difficult for him to restrain his compatriots on their desire to protect Crimea from the occupation forces.

17:59. European parliamentarians form Eastern Europe are frustrated with a firm position of such countries as Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Spain on the actions of the Russian leadership with regard to Ukraine. They believe that Russia's Vladimir Putin has included lobbying capabilities in Western Europe, said in an exclusive comment to LB.ua vice-president of the Gorshenin Institute Viktor Sokolov, who takes part in consultations on the situation in Ukraine, which take place in the European Parliament.

18:04. Unidentified men have abducted Director of the Department of the Personnel Administration of the State Border Service of Ukraine, Colonel-General Mikhail Kovalev near the military unit in Yalta. The press service of the State Border Service confirmed this information to a correspondent of LB.ua. However, according to them the details of the kidnapping remain unknown.

According to unconfirmed information, Colonel-General was kidnapped by bikers, who punched tires of his car.

18:15. The Interior Ministry used special squad 'Omega' to disperse Euromaidan activists on the night of December 1, 2013, individual MP Yuriy Derevyanko wrote on 'Facebook'.

According to him, it became known in the course of legal proceedings against former Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko.

'Omega' unit is police special forces to combat terrorism! Staffed with paratroopers, combat swimmers and specialists in mountain training', he wrote.

18:40. Special Envoy of the UN, Secretary-General Robert Serry, who came on a mission to Crimea, was kidnapped by unknown gunmen, announced Director of Information Policy Department of Ukraine's Foreign Ministry Yevhen Perebiynis.

18:44. Turkish authorities have given permission to a U.S. Navy warship to pass through the Bosphorus within the next two days as fears grow that the standoff between Russia and Ukraine and the West over Crimea could soon become militarized, wrote The Hurriyet Daily News.

18:50. Ukraine's Jewish community wrote an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to clarify the real situation with the oppression of the rights of Russians in Ukraine.

In general, it says that Ukraine should only be protected from the Russian president.

19:09. Colonel-General Mikhail Koval, earlier kidnapped in Crimea, was released after negotiations, reported the press service of the State Border Service of Ukraine.

19:10. A group of artists from Dusseldorf and Amsterdam initiated the petition to the curator of Manifesta Biennial 10 in St. Petersburg, Kasper König.

The petition, posted on the website Change.org, calls on artists to cancel the Biennale of Contemporary Art, until Russian troops will be withdrawn from the territory of Ukraine.

19:27. Warehouses in Kyiv are full of drugs either brought by Euromaidan supporters or delivered as humanitarian aid from the Czech Republic, Poland and Germany to help Ukrainians struggling against Viktor Yanukovich, reported Euromaidan medic volunteers.

19:45. Ten thousand people gathered for a rally against war and in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine in the center of Donetsk on Lenin Square

Rally in Donetsk

19:52. Special Envoy of the UN, Secretary-General Robert Serry, earlier kidnapped in Crimea, was released from pro-R supporters. Serry planned to give a press conference on Wednesday night, but has canceled it because of the incident.

20:06. Pro-Russian activists attacked the protesters rallying in defense of the unity of Ukraine on Lenin Square in Donetsk.

People, who held rally in support of the integrity of Ukraine were attacked when they began to disperse. Aggressive Russian supporters attacked them in groups and caught single people, beat them with hands and batons, used sprays and spat at them. In the course of events, they even used smoke bombs and gas against peaceful demonstrators.

The policemen, who tried to restrain the aggression, were attacked by pro-Russian activists chanting 'Berkut' as well.

Also, about 100 pro-Russian activists surrounded a police van and started to shake and push it. It overturned and hit a traffic police car, triggering an accident.

Journalists found some knives covered in blood on the place.

Lenin Square is now occupied by Russian supporters with flags of that country. They are chanting 'Russia, Russia!'.

20:20. The snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kyiv were allegedly hired by Euromaidan leaders, according to a leaked phone conversation between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign affairs minister, which has emerged online.

Estonian Foreign Ministry has already confirmed the authenticity of the leaked call.

Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Catherine Ashton discussing Ukraine over the phone

'There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition', Urmas Paet said during the conversation.

'I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn't pick that up, that's interesting. Gosh', Ashton answered.

Paet also recalled his conversation with doctor Olga Bogomolets, who treated those shot by snipers in Kyiv. She said that both protesters and police were shot at by the same people.

'And second, what was quite disturbing, this same Olga told as well that all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides', the Estonian FM stressed.

Ashton reacted to the information by saying: 'Well, yeah…that's, that's terrible'.

'So that she then also showed me some photos she said that as a medical doctor she can say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it's really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened', Paet said.

The file was reportedly uploaded to the web by officers of Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) loyal to ousted President Viktor Yanukovich who hacked Paet’s and Ashton’s phones.

20:44. Ukraine does not intend to extradite the 'Praviy sector' ('Right sector') civil movement leader Dmitry Yarosh to Russia, stated the press service of the Prosecutor General. Ukrainian law excludes the extradition of Ukrainian citizens to a foreign state.

21:02. Latvia declared Viktor Yanukovich and a number of Ukrainian officials and their children persona non grata, says s statement on the official website of the Latvian Foreign Ministry. l

21:17. Special Envoy of the UN, Secretary-General Robert Serry, who was kidnapped in Crimea earlier on Wednesday, intends to depart from Crimea in the near future, reports the press service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

21:32. The General Prosecutor's Office opened criminal proceedings against the Russian Black Sea Fleet Commander Vice Admiral Alexander Vitko on suspicion of committing acts of sabotage in Crimea, stated Acting Attorney General Oleg Mahnitsky.

21:45. Seven people were injured during clashes between pro-Russian protesters and Euromaidan supporters in Donetsk, reported the press service of Donetsk Regional State Administration.

22:15. In Sevastopol more than 100 families of the Ukrainian serviceman had to leave their houses when unknown men damaged power supplies of their houses, reports the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

22:23. NATO announced a full review of its cooperation with Russia on Wednesday to try to pressure Moscow into backing down on Ukraine and said it would suspend planning for a joint mission linked to Syrian chemical weapons, reports Reuters.

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.

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