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Ukrainian crisis: March 21 (live updates)

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

Ukrainian crisis: March 21 (live updates)
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk and European council president Herman Van Rompuy signing a politacal of the EU-Ukrain
Фото: EPA/UPG

Read previous news on the topic: Ukrainian crisis: March 20

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.

00:14. Acting President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov does not cope with the responsibilities of Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and therefore he should be dismissed, said MP Anatoly Gritsenko. According to him, Turchynov did not manage to defend Crimea.

00:28. Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people has called the Crimean authorities to disarm the local self-defence in order to avoid violence.

00:43. Despite the official request of Ukraine, Russian police has not yet added ex-president Viktor Yanukovich, former head of his administration Andriy Klyuyev, former Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko to the international wanted list.

08:18. The European Union has decided to expand to 12 people (up to 33) a list of Russians and Ukrainians, who are denied entry to the EU and whose bank accounts in European banks are frozen, French President Francois Hollande said at a meeting of heads of the EU.

08:31. Kharkiv agreements between Russia and Ukraine, according to which Kiev received a discount on gas in exchange for an extension of stay of the Black Sea Fleet in Ukraine for 25 years, will be reviewed. Russia is no longer obliged to pay for the BSF stay in Crimea, the Kremlin stated.

09:37. Acting Attorney General Oleg Mahnitsky denies that there were Russian citizens among snipers who were shooting at Euromaidan activists on February 20.

09:51. Leader of the 'UDAR' party Vitali Klitschko says believes that Ukrainian troops should be withdrawn from Crimea immediately, otherwise there won't be anybody to withdraw, he said.

10:04. Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee of Russia has opened a criminal case against the leader of the Ukrainian Party 'Bratstvo' ('Brotherhood') Dmitry Korchinskiy for public calls for war and terrorist activities, says a statement of the committee.

10:10. About 2.8 billion Russian rubles or $ 72 million have been frozen on accounts of Ukrainian confectionery 'Roshen', a spokesman of the 'Roshen' Inna Petrenko stated.

10:15. After lifting the Russian flag over a building of a Academy of naval forces in Sevastopol a group of students sang the national anthem of Ukraine.

Academy of naval forces in Sevastopol coming under Russia's control

10:28. Ukraine's Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional a 'Declaration of Independence of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, adopted by the Supreme Council of Crimea on March 11. However, the decision is unlikely to help the return of the peninsula to Ukraine.

10:39. The European Union and Ukraine's interim government signed a political association agreement on Friday, committing to the same deal former president Viktor Yanukovich rejected last November, a move that lead to his overthrow.

The EU's 28 leaders and interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk signed the core chapters of the Association Agreement on the sidelines of an EU summit in Brussels, officials who witnessed the ceremony told Reuters.

The deal commits Ukraine and the EU to closer political and economic cooperation, although major parts of the agreement concerning free trade will only be signed after Ukraine has held new presidential elections in May.

11:09. Russia will refrain from imposing visa regime with Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of the Russian Security Council.

11:15. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday Ukraine should pay back $11 billion to Russia because an agreement under which Russia provided cheap gas would cease to be valid.

He said the Kharkiv agreements under which Russia was to provide the cheap gas in return for the lease of the Sevastopol naval base in Crimea were 'subject to denunciation', giving Russia a legal right to sue for money back from Ukraine.

11:20. Russia's upper house of parliament unanimously approved a treaty on annexing Ukraine's Crimea region on Friday, clearing the way for President Vladimir Putin to sign it into law.

The Federation Council followed the State Duma lower house by voting for the treaty. Putin was expected to complete the ratification process by signing the treaty at a ceremony with the speakers of both chambers later on Friday.

11:42. Activists and supporters of European integration of Ukraine raised the European Union flag over the Presidential Administration's building as a sign of signing the political part of the Association with the EU (pictures).

The EU flag raised over the Presidential Administration's building.

11:46. Russian Prime Minister Medvedev said in a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Friday that in total Ukraine owes Russia $16 billion.

Medvedev said that Ukraine owes Russia $11 billion because the treaty under which Russia provides Ukraine with cheap gas in return for the Sevastopol naval base was "subject to denunciation".

In addition, he said that Ukraine owes Russia $3 billion for a recent loan in the form of Russian purchase of Eurobonds, and that around $2 billion is owed to Gazprom, Russia's state-controlled gas concern.

11:59. Three tanks were damaged in a fire in the 17th separate tank brigade of the 6th Army Corp of the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Krivoy Rog (Dnipropetrovsk region), which occurred on the evening of March 20.

The fire broke out at around 17:50 on Thrusday in one of the covered concrete hangars thre. When repairing, one of the tanks has shorted wiring, caught fire, and its ammunition detonated. Two tanks standing nearby were damaged by fire as well.

A tank burning in Krivoy Rog

12:01. Russian Association of milkmen 'Soyuzmoloko' asked the authorities to introduce a two-year moratorium on the import into Russia of milk and dairy products from Ukraine in the case of its integration with the EU.

12:18. Crimea State Council Presidium adopted a bill listing 'People carrying out anti-Crimean activities, whose stay on the territory of the Republic of Crimea is undesirable', which includes 278 members of the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament.

12:24. Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to open a deposit in a bank 'Russia', which on Thursday came under U.S. sanctions, along with 20 Russian businessmen and officials.

12:33. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk after the signing of the political part of the Association Agreement in Brussels on Friday said he believes that after the imposition of international sanctions on Russia, Ukraine will be its primary aim.

12:55. Sailors of trawler 'Cherkasy', locked on Lake Donuzlav in Crimea, demand the Ukrainian leadership to make a specific decision on further actions of the military, says their statement addressed to Acting President, Prime Minister, Minister of Defence and Chief of General Staff of Armed Forces of Ukraine.

13:06. As of 12 pm on March 21, 33 million Ukrainian hryvnia from businesses and individuals have been transferred to accounts of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine within a campaign 'Support Ukrainian army' as an aid to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

13:25. Venice Commission unanimously adopted a resolution which recognized a referendum on the status of Crimea illegitimate, as it violates the Constitution of Ukraine, as well as basic international principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty of the subjects of international law, Justice Minister Pavlo Petrenko wrote on Facebook.

13:26. Japan intends to provide Ukraine with nearly $1 billion in financial assistance to stabilize the economy, reported Japanese broadcaster NHK with reference to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

13:46. Russia has sent documents to the central office of Interpol with a demand to include leader of the 'Praviy sector' ('Right sector') civil movement Dmitry Yarosh to the international wanted list, reported the press centre of Russia's Interior Ministry.

13:55. President Vladimir Putin signed legislation on Friday that completed the process of absorbing Crimea into Russia, defying Western leaders who say the Black Sea peninsula remains part of Ukraine.

In a Kremlin ceremony shown live on television, Putin signed a law on ratification of a treaty making Crimea part of Russia, as well as legislation creating two new Russian administrative districts: Crimea and the port city of Sevastopol.

'I want to congratulate all citizens of the Russian Federation - residents of the whole country, Crimea and Sevastopol - on what is, without any exaggeration, a banner event', Putin told a small group of senior lawmakers and officials before signing the documents.

They stood for the national anthem after the signing ceremony and Putin shook the legislators' hands.

Russia's annexation of Crimea, which has a narrow ethnic Russian majority and was given to Ukraine by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev 60 years ago, has touched off the biggest East-West crisis since the Cold War.

14:14. Armenia's recognition of the annexation of Crimea will have a negative impact on bilateral relations, Foreign Minister Daniil Lubkivskyy told journalists.

14:28. A flagship of the Naval Forces of Ukraine frigate 'Hetman Sahaidachny' has concluded the protection of maritime borders of Ukraine and returned to the port of Odessa. Its crew stays loyal to the oath (Ukraine), the press service of the Ministry of Defence reported.

14:46. The Presidium of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea created a constitutional commission to draft the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea.

Appropriate decision 'On creation of the Constitutional Commission of the Republic of Crimea for drafting the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea' was approved at a meeting of the Presidium on March 21, the press service of the Crimean Parliament reported.

The Constitutional Commission is headed by First Deputy Chairman of the State Council of the Republic of Crimea Grigory Ioffe. It has been tasked to submit a draft of the Constitution of the Republic of Crimea to the State Council of the Republic of Crimea.

15:13. Speaker of Ukraine's Parliament, Acting President Oleksandr Turchinov disproves the information about the absence of orders for Ukrainian troops remaining in Crimea.

'When the media publishes information that the military hasn't received any orders - that's not true', he said during a joint press conference with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Kyiv on Friday, reports 'Interfax'.

15:22. Russian President Vladimir Putin instructed head of the Kremlin administration within three days to approve the structure and number of the apparatus of presidential envoy to the Crimean Federal District, reported Putin's press service.

15:33. The United Nations intends to establish a demilitarized zone in Crimea, Acting President Oleksand Turchinov stated at a briefing after a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

15:54. Ukrainian side intends to turn to international courts on the issue of Russia's illegal actions in Crimea, Director of Information Policy Department of the Foreign Ministry Evgeniy Perebiynis.

'In order to protect the rights and interests of Ukraine and its citizens as a result of aggression and occupation of Russia in Crimea, Ukraine will take a number of measures of international legal nature, in particular will appeal to international judicial institutions', he said.

16:04. Chairman of the Duma Committee on Financial Markets Burykina Natalia said that U.S. payment systems Visa and MasterCard, which stopped their cooperation with a number of Russian banks after the U.S. imposed sanctions against Russian officials, may lose their right to work in Russia.

16:09. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk will participate in a summit on nuclear security in Hague scheduled for March 24-25. He will discuss the response to the Russian military aggression with the world's leaders.

16:27. Ukraine intends to address the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, a special agency of the UN) with a complaint about the Russian airlines using the 'Simferopol' airport, although they had not received permission from the Ukrainian authorities, Director of Information Policy Department of the Foreign Ministry Evgeniy Perebiynis stated.

16:31. Leaders of 28 EU countries decided to immediately impose 'economic, trade and financial restrictions' against Crimea, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated on Friday in Brussels.

17:02. Leader of the 'Batkivschyna' party, former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko believes that today's signing of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU is the second Ukraine's victory after the overthrow of president Viktor Yanukovich.

17:16. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev continues to insist that the removal of Viktor Yanukovich from office was illegitimate. He wrote about this on Facebook.

'People, who came out to streets, had a right to protest peacefully against corruption and arbitrariness of the authorities. But this does not negate the fact of capture of power through armed rebellion. Through violence and murder. Yanukovich was not legally dismissed. So, he remains legally elected president forcibly deprived of power', he wrote.

'And everyone should understand everything. Including representatives of the Maidan, who sit in the government and parliament, political functionaries in Kyiv and our Western partners', he added.

17:26. French authorities have taken the decision to suspend military cooperation with Russia in response to events around Ukraine, French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said during his visit to the Baltic countries.

17:30. A massive rally against separatism with a few thousand participants was held today near a building of Kherson City Council, reported the press service of the city council (pictures).

17:31. Russia's State Duma may approve a bill that would make it impossible to work with the U.S. Visa and MasterCard in Russia.

According to 'Slon', the document assumes that all operating and clearing centers would be located in the territory of the Russian Federation, otherwise this payment system will not be able to perform calculations in Russia. Another article of the bill prohibits the operators of the payment system to refuse to provide services to anyone at its discretion.

17:40. Leader of the 'Batkivschyna' party, former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko held a meeting with the participation of specialists in defence and military spheres and proposed the establishment of a permanent headquarters, which will generate solutions to address threats Ukraine faces due to Russia's 'military aggression'.

17:57. Law enforcement authorities have seized $286 thousand and 659 thousand hryvnia from the ex-Minister of Agrarian Policy Mykola Prysyazhnyuk, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook.

18:02. Crimean television spreads information that Ukrainian soldiers who are leaving the peninsula and go to the mainland, will be accused of desertion and treason of Ukraine, Crimean servicemen, including sailors of corvette 'Ternopil' told LB.ua.

According to them, they are told that the soldiers who left Crimea and went to serve to the mainland, were accused of desertion by the Ukrainian Command, will go on trial and may be sentenced to up to 15 years of imprisonment.

18:15. Russians are less likely to buy tickets to Crimea, since it has been annexed to Russia. Tourist flow from Russia to the peninsula could be reduced by 30%.

18:36. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk announced his intention to appeal to international courts on Russia's actions in connection with the nationalization of the Ukrainian property in Crimea. Ukraine assesses damage from Russian occupation in the hundreds of billions of dollars.

18:36. Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash has been released by Austia;s court on Friday on bail of €125 million.

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

19:26. The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in a few weeks will hold an extended meeting with the participation of EU Commissioners, where, among other things, energy issues will be discussed, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated.

19:42. Cameramen of an Association 'Babel-13' Yaroslav Pilunsky and Yuri Gruzinov, who were kidnapped in Simferopol on 16, have been released.

20:09. The main goal of Russian President Vladimir Putin is to reformat and change the existing world order, former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko stated.

20:18. The U.S. will expand its sanctions against Russian citizens and organizations due to Russia's policy towards Ukraine, U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman said.

20:32. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says believes that Ukraine will return Crimea, and Russians troops won't get to the mainland.

20:46. Yulia Tymoshenko has said Vladimir Putin is Ukraine's enemy number one and has forever lost Ukraine's sympathy.

21:09. Four Russian airjets have violated the requirements of the Chicago Convention, the Air Code of Ukraine and other normative legal acts of the country by landing in a closed airport in Simferopol, says a statement by Ukraine's Foreign Ministry.

21:33. Russian troops seized the Ukrainian submarine 'Zaporozhye'. Russian boats surrounded it, and Russian soldiers started throwing grenades near it, a crew of the submarine said.

22:26. A cost of gas from the European Union to Ukraine will be $150 per thousand cubic meters less than from the Russian Federation, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk stated.

22:43. Reports that a part of salaries of employees of some companies from all over Ukraine will be used to repair Independence Square in the centre of Kyiv are a provocation, Acting President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov told reporters. 

22:56. Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko believes that parliamentary elections in Ukraine should be conducted asap.

23:14. On the first of April Russia wants to double a price of its gas for Ukraine up to $500, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said.

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