The latest breaking news from Ukraine in English

Ukrainian crisis: March 20 (live updates)

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

Ukrainian crisis: March 20 (live updates)
Ukrainian soldiers on a military base seized by Russian servicemen

Read previous news on the topic: Ukrainian crisis: March 18

Ukrainian crisis: March 19

Defying Ukrainian protests and Western sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a treaty in Moscow on Tuesday, March 18, making Crimea part of Russia again. He also said he didn't plan to seize any other regions of Ukraine.

On the same day a Ukrainian serviceman protecting one of the remaining Ukrainian bases in the main town of Simferopol on the peninsula came under attack - the first death in Crimea from a military clash since Russia seized control in late February. The Ukrainian authorities said the attackers had been wearing Russian military uniforms, and responded by authorizing its soldiers in Crimea to use weapons to protect their lives, reversing previous orders that they should avoid using arms against attack.

As of March 10 Russia there were 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.

00:06. Slovakia and Ukraine will sign an agreement on reverse gas supplies to Ukraine until the end of April, while supplying will start at the end of this year, EU Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger said after talks with Minister of Energy and Coal Industry of Ukraine Yuriy Prodan in the European Commission.

00:23. President Barack Obama ruled out U.S. military involvement in Ukraine on Wednesday, emphasizing diplomacy in the U.S. standoff with Russia over Crimea, reports Reuters.

'We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine', Obama told KNSD, San Diego's NBC affiliate, in an interview.

'We need do not need to trigger an actual war with Russia', he told KSDK, a St. Louis station owned by Gannett in a separate interview.

Obama, who imposed sanctions on 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials on Monday, said the United States will push diplomatic efforts to bring pressure on Russia to loosen its grip on the Crimea region of southern Ukraine.

'There is a better path, but I think even the Ukrainians would acknowledge that for us to engage Russia militarily would not be appropriate and would not be good for Ukraine either', Obama told KNSD.

The president, who spoke to seven local television stations, said the United States would announce additional sanctions over the next several days.

If Russia fails to respond to international pressure, 'in coordination with our European allies, you could expect even more disruptive economic actions that could end up having a significant impact on the Russian economy', he told KSDK.

00:47. Russia's actions in Crimea are dangerous, they can't by recognized by law or left without consequences, U.S. ambassador Samantha Power stated during a meeting of the UN Security Council.

What happened in Crimea should not repeat in other parts of Ukraine, she said.

01:51. The Party of Regions MPs-separatists are preparing a Crimean scenario for Kherson, acting Kherson Mayor Volodymyr Mikolaenko told LB.ua.

07:16. Ukrainian navy commander Serhiy Haiduk and several other hostages detained by Crimean authorities on Wednesday have been released, the Ukrainian presidential website said on Thursday.

A Ukrainian military spokesman said Admiral Serhiy Haiduk had been driven away from a navy compound in Russian-controlled Crimea by what appeared to be Russian special forces.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu asked the authorities in Crimea on Thursday to free the detained hostages and allow them safe passage out of the region.

08:45. American news agency Associated Press has stopped marking news from Crimea as Ukrainian. In explanation, published in its blog, the agency says that Ukraine has no control over the peninsula, and the output should reflect the actual state of affairs.

08:57. Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan in a conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday discussed the situation after the 'referendum' in Crimea, and both 'have stated that this is another sample of the right of people for self-determination through free will', the press service of the Armenian leader reported.

09:17. First and second presidents of Ukraine Leonid Kravchuk and Leonid Kuchma said that Ukrainian servicemen in Crimea should be urgently relocated to the mainland of Ukraine in order to save their lives. With this request they addressed Acting President of Ukraine, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada Oleksandr Turchynov during the meeting, which took place on their own initiative, Turchynov's press secretary reported.

09:39. Acting Defence Minister Igor Tenyukh has discussed the situation in Ukraine and the Crimea with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu. They agreed to continue working relationships.

09:57. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the annexation of Crimea is 'part of a global strategy of Russia', and expressed concerns about a possible military invasion of Russia in the eastern regions of Ukraine. He also said he believes that Russia could face isolation in the international arena.

10:25. Russian authorities have taken over a Ukrainian-owned confectionery plant 'Roshen' located in the Russian city of Lipetsk and halted production, a joint statement from Ukraine's Foreign and Economic Ministries said on Thursday.

According to the statement, members of Russia's riot police took control of the factory on Wednesday, and the ministries said Russian authorities had shown no documentation giving them the right 'to burst on to the company's property and halt production'.

10:25. Introduction of visa regime with Ukraine for Russia would be a great complexity to Russians, chairman of Russia's State Duma Sergey Naryshkin said. https://lb.ua/news/2014/03/20/260087_narishkin_zayavleniya_kieva_vizah_rf.html

10:35. Permanent representative of Ukraine in the CIS bodies Ivan Bunechko has resigned as chairman of the Council of Permanent Representatives of the Commonwealth states.

10:44. Information for those who want to help the family of the deceased Ukrainian serviceman in Crimea.

10:47. Ukraine's parliament adopted a declaration on the struggle for the liberation of Ukraine. 274 members of the parliament voted for the adoption of the draft declaration. The Verkhovna Rada said that Crimea was, is and will be a part of Ukraine.

In this document, Parliament drew attention of governments and parliaments of the world, international organizations and the international community that the Ukrainian people will never recognize the annexation of an integral part of its territory - the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, seized by Russia with a gross violation of fundamental rules of international law.

10:56. Ukraine is in no hurry to impose a visa regime on Russia in response to Moscow's takeover of the Crimea peninsula, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk was quoted as saying on Thursday.

'We should not be in a hurry with the introduction of a visa regime with Russia', Yatseniuk's press service said, referring to comments the prime minister made in Brussels.

'Such an initiative by Ukraine is most unlikely to be effective in terms of influencing Russia', he said, adding that the measure could negatively affect Ukrainians living in the predominantly Russian-speaking east of the country.

Ukraine's Security Council, a body of top officials, decided on Wednesday to impose rules within days to require Russians travelling to Ukraine to obtain visas. Yatseniuk is in Brussels to sign the political part of an association agreement with the European Union.

11:13. Command of the Task Force 'Crimea' is withdrawing its stuff from Crimean military facilities, after agreeing its actions with Kyiv, director of the Center for Political and Military Studies Dmitry Tymchuk wrote on Facebook. 11:27. Acting President of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov at a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada stated he had cancelled the reduction of the Ukrainian army.

11:36. The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, has recognized the Crimean Tatar people as Crimea's indigenous people. 283 lawmakers supported a draft resolution number 4475 on the guarantees of the rights of the Crimean Tatar people for protection and realization of their inalienable right to self-determination.

11:50. Russian servicemen haven't stormed a corvette 'Ternopil' moored in Sevastopol Bay (Crimea), despite their yesterday's threat, sergeant Nikolai Pikuschy told LB.ua.

11:51. European leaders will show they are ready to ramp up punitive measures against Russia, including politically sensitive economic sanctions, at a summit starting on Thursday, Chancellor Angela Merkel told the German parliament, reports Reuters.

'The EU summit today and tomorrow will make clear that we are ready at any time to introduce phase-3 measures if there is a worsening of the situation', Merkel told the Bundestag lower house.

Merkel, who still wants a diplomatic solution to the crisis, also questioned whether annual German-Russian government consultations, scheduled to take place in Leipzig next month, could go ahead.

11:59. Number of victims of the protests in Ukraine as of March 20 increased by one person, reaching 103 deceased, the press service of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine reported.

12:09. Ukraine intends to impose sanctions against companies which cooperate with the self-proclaimed Crimean authorities, Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko stated.

12:22. Ukrainian authorities have accused Russia of confiscation Lipetsk factories of 'Roshen', says a joint statement of the Economic Development Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

12:32. Official Minsk considers to take chairmanship in the CIS instead of Ukraine, but this should be agreed with the other member countries.

12:51. Russian border guards have stepped up checks on goods entering from Ukraine, officials from the customs services and an agricultural inspection service said on Thursday.

'Russian customs have increased customs checks, acting on information about possible attempts to bring contraband in from Ukraine', said Dmitry Kotikov, a customs spokesman.

12:57. Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree on the restoration of The Black Sea Higher Naval School of Nahimov in Sevastopol and a creation of a city-hero Presidential Cadet Academy.

A draft document was presented by Putin to Russia's Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu.

13:29. Russian invaders have seized broadcasting company of the Defence Ministry of Ukraine (TRC) 'Breeze', head of the Center for Military-Political Studies Dmitry Timchuk wrote on his page on Facebook.

13:40. The Crimean police has ordered all local residents to surrender illegally held weapons until March 30. Otherwise, offenders will be prosecuted under Russian law, reported the press service of the Interior Ministry in Crimea.

13:44. The self-proclaimed President of the Council of Ministers of Crimea Sergey Aksenov and chairman of the Supreme Council of Crimea Vladimir Konstantinov have been declared wanted.

Their photos and profiles appeared on a website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in a list of 'people who are hiding from the bodies of pre-trial investigation'.

They are sought by Investigation Department of the Security Service of Ukraine as suspects in the crime under Part 1 of the Criminal Code p.109 (actions committed to forcibly change or overthrow the constitutional order or the seizure of state power). They may be punished by imprisonment for a term of 5 to 10 years.

13:54. A flagship of the Ukrainian Navy, frigate 'Hetman Sahaidachny' left Odessa to perform combat missions in Ukrainian territorial waters, reported Command of the Ukrainian Navy.

14:16. Russia on Thursday has suspended passage of residents of Ukraine's border regions through local checkpoints, the press service of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine reported.

14:24. Ukraine instead of introducing a visa regime with Russia will strengthen access control on the border with its western neighbour, acting head of the 'Batkivschyna' faction Serhiy Sobolev told reporters.

14:37. Sevastopol City Council at an extraordinary session created a pension fund and a private bank. As noted on the council's website, Russia is ready to finance pension payments to the city, but only through the pension fund. Therefore, local lawmakers approved the temporary provision of this department and appointed Marina Korotayev as its head.

14:41. Ukraine will increase tariffs for electricity, gas and water for Crimea, head of the 'Batkivschyna' faction Serhiy Sobolev said, adding that there won't be any economic blockade of Crimea, 'but a special regime of tariffs for the peninsula'.

14:42. Yulia Tymoshenko will run for president. Her decision is final, Yulia Tymoshenko said today at a meeting with her colleagues from the 'Batkivschyna' party.

14:58. Ukrainian authorities will continue paying social benefits to residents of Crimea, who will remain citizens of Ukraine, acting head of the 'Batkivschyna' faction Serhiy Sobolev stated.

15:16. As of March 19, 1288 refugees have left Crimea and moved to other regions of Ukraine, mostly to Lviv, Minister of the Cabinet Ostap Semerak said at a briefing.

15:27. Kyiv city administration has no money to pay its debts, and the city could face a default, head of Kyiv City State Administration Volodymyr Bondarenko stated.

He also asked the central government for help.

15:32. The State Border Service of Ukrane has begun redeployment of its staff from Crimea, first deputy head of the State Border Service Shisholin Paul said.

15:35. Russia's lower house of parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly approved a treaty to annex Crimea from Ukraine, leaving just one legal obstacle for the Black Sea peninsula to cross before it is formally absorbed by Moscow, reports Reuters.

Only one deputy in the State Duma voted against the treaty, and the Federation Council upper house is expected to complete ratification on Friday, signed by President Vladimir Putin and Crimean leaders on Tuesday.

The State Duma chamber stood for the national anthem after the vote, approved by 443 deputies in an almost full chamber .

'From now on, and forever, the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol will be in the Russian Federation', pro-Kremlin lawmaker Leonid Slutsky said in an address before the vote.

The Crimean port city of Sevastopol is home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Russian forces are now in control of the peninsula, which has an ethnic Russian majority and voted for union with Russia on Sunday.

16:14. The United States supports the idea of demilitarization of Crimea, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said at a briefing in Kyiv.

'We believe that such a direction should be worked out. We'll try to make it a reality', Sherman said, adding that the idea could be realised by the UN Security Council.

16:17. Ukraine's withdrawal from the CIS will stop export of Ukrainian livestock products to the CIS countries and the Customs Union in the first place, head of Rosselkhoznadzor Sergey Dankvert stated.

16:38. Accusations against Eiromaidan medical service volunteers on stealing drugs were staged by the Russian special services, Ukraine's Health Minister Oleg Musiy said at a briefing on March 20.

16:56. 66 'ambulances' that were previously purchased for Crimea, won't be sent to the peninsula unless Russia pays for them, Health Minister Oleg Musiy stated.

16:58. On Thursday in Chernigiv Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) detained a Russian spy, V. Makarov, who appeared to be a member of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff of Russia's Armed Forces, the press service of the SBU reported.

'The criminal was detained while receiving documents marked 'secret' about the latest warheads homing systems. According to the state expert on secrets, documents, obtained by a foreigner, refer to information the disclosure of which poses a threat to national interests and security of the state'.

SBU has started criminal proceedings under Part 1 of Art. 114 (espionage) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

17:00. Russian opposition leader and blogger Alexei Navalny in his article 'How to punish Putin', published by The New York Times, offered Western countries to cause a 'serious blow' to 'inner circle' of Russian President Vladimir Putin's in response to the annexation of Crimea, by freezing assets and arresting property of prominent Russian businessmen.

17:06. SBU has detained head of the Odesa regional party 'Russian bloc', leader of the Union of Orthodox Citizens of Ukraine Valeriy Kaurov, the press service of 'Russian bloc' reported.

Kaurov is a suspect on a criminal case 'upon infringement of the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine'.

'Russian Orthodox activists are accused of organizing a rally and march in support of the Crimean referendum' as well as speeches 'with the requirements to hold a referendum in Odessa', the press-service noted.

17:14. €125 million euros paid by Ukrainian businessman Dmitry Firtash as a pledge for the release from prison, have been frozen 'frozen' on suspicion of money laundering, representative of the District Court in criminal matters in Vienna Christina Zaltsborn reported.

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.

17:24. U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a decree giving the right to impose sanctions on the main sectors of Russia's economy.

17:35. U.S. imposed sanctions against another 20 Russian officials, businessmen and parliamentarians. You can see the whole list here (2 last pages).

17:40. Czech Government intends to arrange resettlement of Volyn Czechs from the territory of Ukraine because of the unstable situation in the country.

17:57. Russian Foreign Ministry in responce to the US sanctions issued its own blacklist of U.S. officials.

The list includes nine surnames, Deputy Assistant to U.S. President Caroline Atkinson, assistants of U.S. President Benjamin Pfeiffer and Daniel Rode, the leader of the majority in the Senate, Harry Reid, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs Robert Menendez, Senators: Mary Landrieu, John McCain and Daniel Coates).

18:35. Pechersk district court in Kiev on Thursday canceled all judicial sentences against former Interior Minister Yuriy Lutsenko, rehabilitating him as a political prisoner.

19:30. In Kerch (Crimea) a military base of the Marine Corps A-0669 came under the control of the Russian military. Commander of the A-0669 Marine Alexei Nikiforov told LB.ua.

According to him, about 200 officers defected to Russia, 30 people have written a letter of resignation, another 40 went to the mainland to continue their service in the Ukrainian army. Nikiforov explained that the men have been under pressure of the Russian military until now, and although they remained loyal to the oath, they had not received any instructions from the Ukrainian authorities and generals, and thus felt forgotten and unnecessary.

19:34. In Sevastopol Bay (Crimea) a group of armed men of up to 20 people stormed the Ukrainian Navy corvette 'Ternopil', head of the Crimean media center of the Defence Ministry Vladislav Seleznev wrote on Facebook.

Sergeant Nikolai Pikuschy told LB.ua by phone that none of the officers has defected - they all left the ship and are heading to the mainland.

19:45. Russia's LDPR faction intends to raise before the State Duma an issue of deprivation of a mandate of MP Ilya Ponomarev, because he voted against the ratification of the Treaty against the annexation of Crimea to Russia and a new law on the subjects of the Federation.

Ilya Ponomarev was the only MP out of 446, who opposed these decisions.

19:58. Ukrainian Foreign Ministry is going to implement the National Security and Defense Council's (NSDC) decision on the visa regime with Russia by introducing entry and exit by foreign passports, acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsa stated.

20:12. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has warned Russia that Ukraine will react harshly to Russia's attempt to seize power and eastern regions will be protected.

He also noted that Russia destroys international law and the West should give an adequate response.

20:39. A self-proclaimed Prime Minister of Crimea Sergey Aksenov received passport of the Russian Federation.

20:58. In Crimea, the Crimean Tatar Nuri Suleymanov has gone missing, reports the press-secretary of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis Lily Muslimova on Facebook.

21:10. A 17-th separate tank brigade of the 6th Army Corps Land Forces of Dnipropetrovsk Panzer Division in Krivoy Rog went on fire. According to preliminary information - warehouses located there are burning, informs edition 0564.

21:27. Ukraine is ready to sign the economic part of an Association Agreement with the European Union after the presidential elections, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated after the summit of the European People's Party.

21:41. Actions of the Russian Federation in Crimea should be qualified as an act of aggression, Acting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsa said at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on the situation in Ukraine.

21:55. About 60 Russian military accompanied by the Crimean 'self-defence' have attacked and captured Ukrainian corvette 'Khmelnitsky' in Sevastopol', reported one of the members of the crew. The ship was towed by Russian Black Sea Fleet to a Kurinaya bay.

22:30. Russian President Vladimir Putin won't stop at just capturing Crimea, the most vulnerable regions now are Kherson, Kharkiv, Lugansk, Donetsk, stated President Viktor Yushchenko.

22:45. Ukrainian law enforcers are investigating 137 criminal proceedings related to separatism, nine people are wanted as suspects, Acting Prosecutor General Oleg Mahnitsky stated.

23:01. President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz at the EU summit devoted to the situation around Crimea warned Russia that if it continues the annexation of other territories it will face economic confrontation with the European Union that Moscow will lose.

23:24. Crimean Tatar Nuri Suleymanov, who went missing earlier on Thursday, has been found. The man is unable to speak now, because he was brutally beaten.

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