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Ukrainian crisis: March 18 (live updates)

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

Ukrainian crisis: March 18 (live updates)
A man standing with a USSR flag near Crimea's parliament

Read previous news on the topic: Ukrainian crisis: March 14

Ukrainian crisis: March 17

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.

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.

As of March 10 Russia has introduced around 20 thousands soldiers to the territory of Crimea, and their number keeps growing. Also, there are about 220 thousand Russian soldiers on the Russian side of the south-eastern borders of Ukraine and Crimea.

On March 17 a complete, preliminary ballot count showed that 96.77% of voters in Ukraine's Crimea have voted on a referendum on the status of Crimea to join Russia. On the same day the Supreme Council of Crimea at an extraordinary meeting on Monday adopted a resolution 'On the independence of Crimea'.

00:14. On Monday in the village of Plodovoe, Bakhchisaraysky district (Crimea), a dozen of armed men broke into and started shooting at a long-range navigation station, referring to a military base 4515 A (Belbek). According to an eyewitness they kidnapped a commander of the base.

00:30. Businessman and member of Parliament representing the Party of Regions faction Rinat Akhmetov said that he had tried to persuade the ex-president Viktor Yanukovich to resign during their last meeting on Feb. 22 in Donetsk.

00:48. The EU has begun to discuss how to reduce energy dependence on Russia in the long term, British Foreign Secretary William Hague stated at the end of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday.

01:07. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said it was not easy for the EU to decide on sanctions against Russia, and expressed hope for a diplomatic solution of the Crimean crisis.

West is still ready for dialogue, and diplomacy should be 'the key to resolving this conflict', she said.

08:08. NATO is reassessing its relations with Russia in connection with the events in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in an interview with U.S. broadcaster CNN.

08:21. In order to stabilize the situation in Ukraine, Russia and the West must find a common language, chairman of the Duma Committee on Foreign Affairs Alexei Pushkov stated.

09:02. Canada has imposed sanctions on Russian and Crimean officials as the result of 'the illegal, dangerous and unilateral actions of the Putin regime in Crimea over the weekend', Prime Minister Stephen Harper said on Monday, reports Reuters.

09:12. President Vladimir Putin has approved a draft treaty to make Crimea part of Russia, the Kremlin said on Tuesday, confirming that Russia plans to make the southern Ukrainian region part of Russia. It said he would sign the treaty with Crimea's leader (document).

09:21. Japan announced the introduction of a package of measures in response to Russia's intervention in the situation in Ukraine, reports Kyodo. Also, Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida announced the suspension of consultations on visa facilitation with Russia.

Japan introduces sanctions against Russia

09:29. The State Duma adopted a statement 'On the situation in the Republic of Crimea', made by the leaders of all four factions, and chairman of the lower house of parliament Sergei Naryshkin.

09:50. The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine has called on the international community not to recognize the independence of Crimea, reported the press service of the Foreign Ministry.

10:20. European Commissioner Stefan Fule in an interview with the German newspaper Die Welt said that in connection with the situation in Ukraine, the EU could consider expanding.

10:35. MP from the Party of Regions Vadym Kolesnichenko intends to hand over his parliamentary mandate, because he does not recognize the current government and says does not want to 'live in a country with social fascists'.

10:40. In the heart of Odesa about 200 people during all night have been blocking a building of the regional Department of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), demanding the release of detained pro-Russian activist, coordinator of the organization 'People's alternative' Anton Davidchenko.

10:50. Prime Minister of Ukraine Arseniy Yatsenyuk in his address to the citizens of Ukraine, in particular - to residents of the south and east, promises to do everything possible in order to build a partnership with Russia and good neighborly relations.

11:05. The Supreme Council of Transnistria has asked the Duma to draft a law that would allow to join the breakaway republic to Russia.

11:13. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk in an address to the inhabitants of the southern and eastern regions said he opposes calls for a ban on the Party of Regions.

11:14. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said that Ukrainian law enforcement officers gathered evidence of the involvement of Russian secret services in the organization of clashes in the eastern regions of Ukraine and detained saboteurs.

11:29. In Ivano-Frankivsk has started the second stage of the campaign 'We do not sell products made in Russia' and an action 'It's cool to be Ukrainians' as a protest against the occupation by Russian troops Ukrainian Crimea. 14 grocery stores belonging to three major retail chains in the city removed Russian goods from the shelves, replacing them with Ukrainian analogues.

11:33. The Ministry of Defence has received almost 9.9 million hryvnia to its accounts within an action 'Support Ukrainian army'.

11:45. Ukraine's first president Leonid Kravchuk shared his opinion about the situation in Crimea. He called coverage of events in Ukraine on the Russian TV 'psychosis, and that it's too late for Ukraine to deal with Crimea.

11:51. Russia's Duma deputies unanimously adopted a statement in which they ask for U.S. President Barack Obama and EU policymakers to apply to all of them the sanctions imposed on March 17 in connection with the situation in Ukraine. 353 parliamentarians voted for the document.

12:02. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that Russia's participation in G8 was suspended. Further action will depend on the behavior of the Russian authorities. 

12:07. Crimea is adopting the Russian ruble as its official currency and will drop the Ukrainian hryvnia in April, Russian news agency RIA quoted a senior official in the government of the region, which has voted to become part of Russia, as saying.

Crimean authorities had earlier said the hryvnia would to remain an official currency until 2016.

'Unfortunately, I have to say that parallel circulation of the ruble and the hryvnia will not work out. We are witching to the ruble zone', state-run RIA cited Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev as saying.

12:19. Chairman of the parliamentary committee, a member of the 'Batkivshchyna' party Vyacheslav Kirilenko offered the parliament to ban the activities of the Communist Party. This is stated in a bill number 4478, registered in the Verkhovna Rada on March 18.

12:29. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has expressed strong and categorical protest against the recognition of the breakaway Russian Federation Republic of Crimea as a subject of the international law, and accused Russia of annexation of Crimea.

12:40. The Crimean authorities require the Crimean Tatars to release part of the land on which they live 'for social needs', the first vice-premier of the Crimea Rustam Temirgaliev stated.

12:56. Negotiations on the establishment of the Black Sea grain pool of Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan have been stopped since the project proved meaningless without Ukraine, president of the Russian Grain Union Arkady Zlochevskiy stated.

12:56. Vladimir Putin speaks at the Kremlin before the State Duma, the Federation Council, the heads of Russian regions and representatives of civil society in connection with the appeal of the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol for admission to the Russian Federation.

Putin addressing Russians on Crimea

13:10. Armed men attacked a crew of the ATR channel, which filmed the armed seizure of dealership 'Bogdan-Auto' in Simferopol.

13:15. Russia passed Crimea to Ukraine as a sack of potatoes, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a press conference.

Russian President says that Ukraine has been and will be a fraternal country for Russia.

13:17. Joining Crimea to Russia is vitally important, historic decision, Putin said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Crimea would have three equal languages; Russian, Ukrainian and Crimean Tatar.

'It will be right if in Crimea, and I know that Crimeans are supporting this, there will be three equal languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Crimea Tatar', he told a joint session of parliament.

'In the hearts and minds of people, Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia. This commitment, based on truth and justice, was firm, was passed from generation to generation'.

13:26. Ukrainian authorities has exhausted Crimeans, they have gone hateful to them, Putin said.

13:28. Russian troops didn't enter Crimea, they had already been there, said Putin.

Now Hitler's henchmen are in power in Ukraine. Therefore, 'Russia could not leave the Crimea in trouble', he said.

'The West has bent everybody, and now resents', he added.

13:31. 16 million UAH from the budget of Ukraine has been spent to conduct the Crimean referendum, chairman of the board of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) Oleksandr Chernenko stated.

13:40. Crimea can be only Russian, and will never belong to 'benderovtsi', Russian president said, adding that his country doesn't claim other regions of Ukraine.

13:41. European Investment Bank intends to provide Ukraine with loans of $3 billion over the next two years.

13:42. 'I can't imagine that we will have to visit the NATO guys in Sevastopol. It would be better if they come to visit us in Sevastopol, explained Putin his decision to join Crimea to Russia.

13:54. All equipment and armament of military units of the armed forces of Ukraine in Crimea becomes state property of the Republic of Crimea, says an order of the self-titled Prime Minister of Crimea Sergey Aksenov.

13:58. Russian President Vladimir Putin on the one hand, and the chairman of the Supreme Council of Crimea Vladimir Konstantinov, unrecognized Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksenov and 'People's Mayor' of Sevastopol Alexey Chaly (Russian citizen - Ed.) signed a treaty of annexation of Crimea to Russia (pictures).

14:15. Ukraine intends to compensate the damage caused by the nationalization of the Ukrainian state-owned enterprises by the Supreme Council of Crimea using the Russian state property, which is located both in Ukraine and in other countries, Ukraine's Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko stated at a press conference.

Moreover, Petrenko hinted that Ukraine will be able to compensate the damage, among other things, by using the property of the Russian 'Gazprom', located in European countries.

In addition, the Minister of Justice considers premature a statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia for Ukraine to pay Ukraine $20 billion to raise the issue of redistribution of assets of the USSR. Petrenko said that the documents on the assets and liabilities, which Russia left to itself after the collapse of the USSR, have not yet been analyzed.

Also, he admits that Ukraine has the legal right for a large part of foreign exchange reserves, mineral resources of the Russian Sberbank, which remained in Russia after the collapse of the USSR.

14:31. Crimea and Sevastopol are considered a part of the Russian Federation since Tuesday, March 18 - the date of the signing of the treaty of accession of the peninsula to the Russian Federation, reports the Kremlin website.

14:48. The Communist Party has initiated a bill for consideration in Parliament, which prohibits government officials have real estate and bank accounts abroad in order to fight corruption, the CP leader Petro Symonenko stated.

14:49. Since Tuesday, March 18, all the inhabitants of Crimea and Sevastopol are recognized as citizens of the Russian Federation, says the agreement on the adoption of the peninsula in the Russian Federation, published on the Kremlin website.

15:07. Transition to the Russian ruble in Crimea will take two to three months, Russia's Minister of Economy Alexei Ulyukayev said on Tuesday.

15:08. A deputy head of the Central Election Commission of Ukraine Andriy Maguera believes that the loss of Crimea won't lead to the disruption of the presidential election scheduled for May 25.

15:26. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry believes that Russia is a threat to the civilized world and international security, Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevgeny Perebyynis said art a briefing.

'Signing of the Agreement on the so-called annexation of Crimea to Russia and the corresponding performance of the Russian president has nothing to do with any law or democracy, nor with common sense. Today Putin's speech very vividly demonstrated how real is the threat to the civilized world and international security from the Russian Federation', says a twit citing Perebyynis.

'We call on the international society to take into account the lessons of history, which showed that it was the connivance of such actions and attempts of appeasement, which Russia openly uses today, with which global conflicts begin', said the speaker of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.

The Foreign Ministry also called on all responsible states and international organizations to take effective measures against the aggressor, and urged all members of the international community to refrain from the international recognition of the Republic of Crimea.

15:27. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal denied reports that membership of the Russian Federation in 'G-8' was suspended, and stressed that it was only a decision to suspend participation in the preparations for the summit, which was to be held in Sochi.

15:37. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday called Russia's intervention in Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula a land grab and underscored Washington's commitment to defending the security of its NATO allies on Russia's borders, reports Reuters.

Speaking at a news conference in Warsaw after meeting Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk, Biden said collective security guarantees remained the bedrock of NATO, and that Washington will take additional steps to strengthen the alliance in the future.

He said the United States stood by its commitment to complete a missile defense system in Poland by 2018. Biden said Russia will face additional measures from the European Union and United States if it goes ahead with a plan to make Crimea part of its territory.

16:05. Ukraine will explore the possibility to put forward claims for 16.37% of total assets of the USSR at the time of its collapse, stated Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevgeny Perebyynis. Thus, only deposits of Sberbank are estimated at about $130 billion.

16:05. Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that Russia's intervention in Crimea cannot be accepted by the international community, reports Reuters.

'Russia's annexation of Crimea can't be accepted by the international community including Poland. In one moment this changes the country's (Ukraine) borders and the geopolitical situation in this region of the world', Tusk said at a joint news conference with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

16:10. Unrecognised chairman of the Council of Ministers of Crimea Sergei Aksenov, who declared himself a supreme commander of the ARC and Sevastopol, offered Ukrainian servicemen in Crimea either to become a part of Crimean military or resign. Earlier on Tuesday he declared that martial property in the region belongs to the Crimean authorities.

16:15. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry reports that a court in Vienna decided to extradite Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash to the U.S.

A 48-year-old man was arrested in Vienna las week. He is wanted by the U.S. authorities on suspicion of bribery and criminal conspiracy.

16:25. Britain has suspended bilateral military co-operation with Russia that is not subject to treaty obligations, Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Tuesday, responding to Russian moves to annex Ukraine's Crimea region.

Hague said this included cancelling a planned French-Russian-UK-United States naval exercise and suspending a proposed Royal Navy ship visit to St Petersburg.

Hague also said Britain would be pushing for the strongest possible package of further sanctions against Russia that could be agreed among European leaders when the European Union council meets later this week.

16:26. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway Borge Brende said his country has suspended participation in negotiations on a free trade area between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA, includes Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein) and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan).

16:49. Acting President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov said that Russia's actions in relation to Crimea are an attempt to annex the Ukrainian territory and neither Ukraine nor the entire civilized world will admit it.

16:58. There are more than 110,000 people who celebrate Crimea's annexation to Russia on Red Square in Moscow, Moscow police department reports.

The only problem is that Red Square's area is 23.1 thousand square meters, and thus it means that each participant of the meeting has 0.21 square meter of space to stand. At the same time, there is still free place on the square.

17:03. The United States and its G7 allies will gather next week at The Hague to consider a further response to Russia's attempt to absorb Ukraine's Crimea region, the White House said on Tuesday.

17:06. One person was injured in Simferopol (Crimea) during the storming of photogrammetric control centre of the central military topographic and navigation Main Operations of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, organizer of the 'Information resistance' group Dmitri Tymchuk reported on Facebook.

According to the group's information, Russian snipers are working on the place.

17:32. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said that all Ukrainian forces stationed in Crimea will receive the status of combatants.

17:49. Vienna Court denied the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry's statement concerning extradition of Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash.

'That's not true. Today there was no decision to extradite Mr. Firtash', court spokesman Christina Zaltsborn said.

17:54. The last living witness of Nuremberg trial, 87-year-old retired colonel Joseph Davidovich Hoffman, who lives in Poltava, appealed to the heads of states of the former anti-Hitler coalition with the call to stop Russia, whose actions can trigger World War III.

18:00. Supporters of Ukraine in Crimea are afraid to refuse receiving Russian passports because earlier they were persecuted by pro-Russian activists.

18:03. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk states that 'the Crimean issue' has moved from the political to the military stage because of Russia. Thus, he instructed a Minister of Defence to assemble an international commission.

18:08. During the assault of a photogrammetric Ukrainian center in Simferopol (Crimea) a Ukrainian soldier was killed by Russian soldiers, reports head of the 'Information resistance' group Dmitri Tymchuk on Facebook.

The center has been captured, all Ukrainian soldiers are standing on a parade ground near the building, their weapons were seized.

18:29. Acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov at a press briefing said he believes that the temporary occupation of the Crimean Autonomous Republic by the Russian Federation will not allow to realize Vladimir Putin's plans of conquest, since Crimea is Ukrainian territory.

18:39. Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash claims that his arrest by the FBI request is politically motivated.

19:17. A draft resolution number 4483 on applying for membership in the European Union was registered in the Verkhovna Rada, says a message the website of the Verkhovna Rada.

19:42. Russia's Federation Council on March 21 will hold an extraordinary meeting to ratify the documents necessary for Crimea's annexation to Russia, speaker of the upper house of parliament Valentina Matvienko stated.

19:47. In connection with the death of Ukrainian soldier, military units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces stationed in Crimea, have been allowed to use weapons to defend themselves, reported the press service of the Defence Ministry of Ukraine.

20:11. Following the assassination of the Ukrainian soldier in Simferopol, a wave of violence and provocations by Russian soldiers and members of the so-called Crimean 'self-defence' is rolling across the city, head of the 'Center for Military and Political Studies' Dmitry Tymchuk wrote on Facebook.

Bandits break out the doors and burst into the apartments of the Ukrainian servicemen.

20:23. President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Anne Brasseur condemned the decision of the Russian Federation on the annexation of Crimea.

All member states of the Council of Europe must respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of other states, she noted.

20:35. Oleksandr Panteleimonov wrote a letter of resignation from the post of the head of the First National Channel under pressure of the 'Svoboda' party. 

Afterwards Panteleimonov has disappeared. There is no connection with him.

20:58. Activists have started burning tires on Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv to protest against the inaction of the Ukrainian authorities in Crimea.

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