As it happened: Ukraine turmoil

Key Points

  • Ukrainian interim President Olexander Turchynov has warned Russia against any "military aggression" in Crimea
  • Ukrainian parliament votes to approve Arseniy Yatsenyuk as prime minister - he is a key ally of ex-PM Yulia Tymoshenko
  • Viktor Yanukovych has requested Russian protection following his ousting as president of Ukraine
  • Armed men have seized government buildings in Crimea and flown the Russian flag
  • IMF is sending a fact-finding team to Kiev in coming days to discuss ways it can help
  • All times in GMT

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    Hello and welcome to the BBC's coverage of the political turmoil in Ukraine, as tensions rise over Russia's response to the crisis.

    Steve Rosenberg BBC News, Kiev

    tweets: On the floor of the Ukrainian parliament today, 73 portraits of people killed in #Kiev last week

    Image taken by BBC's Steve Rosenberg shows portraits of people killed in violence in Kiev

    Ukraine's interim President, Olexander Turchynov, has warned Russia against any "military aggression" in Crimea. His warning comes after armed men seize two government buildings in the region. Crimea is located on a peninsula stretching out from the south of Ukraine between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. You can find out more by watching our brief history of Crimea here.


    The Ukrainian foreign ministry has summoned Russia's charge d'affaires, Andrey Vorobyev, and handed him "notes concerning the latest events in Ukraine as well as movement of the Russian Black Sea Fleet units outside their bases" - Interfax-Ukraine. Mr Vorobyev is Russia's top representative in Ukraine after ambassador Mikhail Zurabov was recalled earlier.


    An unnamed Nato chief says actions by an armed group in Crimea are "dangerous and irresponsible", Reuters is reporting.


    Russian media is quoting official sources as saying Moscow has granted Viktor Yanukovych's request to ensure his personal safety.

    Kevin Bishop BBC News, Kiev

    tweets: The barricaded entrance to Crimean parliament today

    Image by Kevin Bishop of barricaded entrance to Crimean parliament
    Evgeniya Guseva

    emails: I just can't believe what has happened today is genuine. I think this is all provocation from the ex-government. I do not think this has come from normal people. Russians, Ukrainians, Tartars and Jews have lived together united for years in Crimea, why all of a sudden would Russians start to segregate themselves.


    Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has told a Nato meeting this morning: "I am extremely concerned about the most recent developments in Crimea. This morning's action by an armed group is dangerous and irresponsible", according to Reuters.

    Steve Rosenberg BBC News, Kiev

    tweets: In the centre of #Kiev there seem to be flowers everywhere in memory of the dead

    Floral tributes to killed protesters in Kiev

    Aleksey Chalyy, the head of the city council in Sebastopol, has met Ukraine's army chief Admiral Yuriy Ilyin to discuss developments in the city, according to the council website. The statement said that "the parties confirmed interest in events developing peacefully, excluding any violent scenarios", according to BBC Monitoring.

    Alexey Leonov-Vendrovskiy

    emails: I lived in Ukraine most of my childhood until I finished school. I lived in the city of Makeevka, in the Donetsk region, most of my family still live there. Situation in Ukraine is complicated, but I can feel sadness and hope of change. All the people of Ukraine desire peaceful resolution of the problem. No one really liked Yanukovych as a president, so most of the people would be happy to see him replaced. Now this is a big question who has to replace him. Unfortunately there is no trust in the interim government.

    11:41: Mark Lowen BBC News, Simferopol

    A handful of pro-Russia demonstrators have pushed through the police cordon and are now outside the Crimean parliament here in Simferopol. They're cheering the occupation of the building by unidentified armed men, who entered this morning by force, hoisting a Russian flag from the roof. The protest leader proclaimed: "We've been waiting for this moment for 20 years. We want a united Russia."

    11:43: Olga Ivshina BBC Russian Service, Kiev

    says the atmosphere in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, and Independence Square - the focus of mass protests - is nervous. She says people there are worried Russia is "preparing the soil" to move into the country.


    What are Russia's policy options now in Ukraine after the dismissal of Viktor Yanukovych as president? Prof Andrei Zagorski, a political analyst in Moscow, examines Russian calculations here.

    11:50: Breaking News

    The Ukrainian parliament has approved the formation of a national coalition government, Reuters is reporting.


    Anti-Yanukovych protesters gathered outside parliament in Kiev as MPs voted on approving a new national unity government to rule the country until elections are held.

    Anti-Yanukovych protesters wave a Ukrainian flag from the top of an army vehicle outside the parliament building in Kiev 27 February 2014
    Robert, St Petersberg

    emails: The Russian people are watching with some interest these events but the apathetic attitude of 90% of Russians means simply "it is the problem of Ukraine and good luck to them". After eight years living here I can only say that Putin will sabre rattle a lot but I doubt very much he will step into a conflict which would have dire consequences for all parties. The Russian forces will do as they are bid without question, but again, Putin will only try to prevail with a force of power showing and not intervention.

    Michael Nutting, Ukraine

    emails: : I have been in Ukraine since December 2013, and have witnessed a big change since the early days of the protests, although I am mainly in the east on the Crimean peninsula the people here are mainly Russian origin so they look to the Russian way of life, but their children look west, and like the Tartar population support the westward direction and the end of turning to Russia. Now separatist movements have started however these are driven by the old guard and I feel will fall by the wayside as the days go on.

    It is going to be tough for a while here but the courage shown over the last few months was really amazing, the people from all over Ukraine showed that people power can bring change and we must now help these people establish a stable environment and hopefully their neighbours will respect the people's wishes.


    Russian media outlets are quoting the country's foreign ministry saying Russia will abide by treaties regarding its Black Sea fleet in Ukraine's Crimea region. It comes after Ukrainian interim President Olexander Turchynov warned Russia against any "military aggression" in Crimea.

    "Regarding the statements about Russia's violation of the agreements on the Black Sea fleet, we declare that in the current difficult situation the Russian Black Sea fleet is strictly adhering to said agreements," Russian agencies quoted a foreign ministry spokesman as saying.


    People waved flags during a pro-Russian rally outside the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol.

    People hold flags during a pro-Russian rally outside the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol February 27, 2014

    Ukraine's Prime Minister designate, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has called on Russia to "stick to their international obligations".

    "We believe Russia would never intervene into Ukrainian domestic affairs and will refrain from any steps that would split Ukraine," he told the BBC's Steve Rosenberg. "We are committed to having Ukraine as one united country. We will punish anyone for separatism in Ukraine with all legal and constitutional means," he added.

    12:31: Bridget Kendall Diplomatic correspondent, BBC News, Moscow

    The news that Viktor Yanukovyh has resurfaced in Russia seems very significant. Not only has he apparently been given sanctuary by the Russian authorities, but they have allowed a statement on his behalf to be read out on Russian TV and distributed by all Russia's main news agencies, in which he officially declares himself still president of Ukraine and denounces the new government in Kiev as 'extremist' and the parliament as illegitimate.


    The Crimean parliament has announced that a referendum will be held on independence, Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency reports.

    Kevin Bishop BBC News, Kiev

    tweets: Russians outside the seized parliament building in #Simferopol

    Russians outside the seized parliament building in #Simferopol
    12:38: Gabriel Gatehouse BBC News correspondent, Kiev

    tweets: Volunteers dismantling a barricade on #Maidan. Revolutionary fervour fading in #Kiev even as Crimea heats up


    Ukraine's currency, the hryvnia, has fallen to a new low of 10 to the US dollar (17 to £1) - a reflection both of the country's political upheavals and longer-term economic weakness. You can get the bottom line on Ukraine's finances - in 60 seconds - here.


    BBC Monitoring's Vitaliy Shevchenko says it is Crimea's top parliamentary officials who appear to have announced a referendum on independence and it is likely that it may have to be approved by MPs before the referendum is held - but it is not quite clear at the moment.


    Ukrainian and Russian papers have expressed concern at the rising tensions between supporters of Ukraine's new leaders and pro-Russian separatists in the Russian-majority Crimea region. You can read a round-up of media reaction here.

    12:53: Breaking News

    The Ukrainian parliament has voted to approve Arseniy Yatsenyuk as prime minister. He is a key ally of former PM Yulia Tymoshenko.


    Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's new PM, has been parliamentary leader of Yulia Tymoshenko's Fatherland party, and was a prominent figure during the protests.

    Arseniy Yatsenyuk

    Following his appointment, Mr Yatsenyuk said that the state's financial resources are exhausted and that he cannot promise the situation is going to get any better, the BBC's Ukrainian Service reports. The new PM also announced "unpopular measures" about subsidies and social payments.


    Reuters is quoting Mr Yatsenyuk as saying that $37bn (£22bn) of credit received by Viktor Yanukovych's government has disappeared.


    President Olexander Turchynov said 317 out of 417 MPs present in Ukraine's parliament voted in favour of Mr Yatsenyuk becoming PM. It was, he said, a record number of votes.


    US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel has called on nations to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and avoid provocative action, Reuters reports.

    US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

    PM Yatsenyuk has accused the government of former President Viktor Yanukovych of stripping state coffers bare, according to Reuters. He was quoted as saying that in the past three years "the sum of $70bn (£42bn) was paid out of Ukraine's financial system into off-shore accounts".

    He added: "The state treasury has been robbed and is empty... $37bn dollars of credit received have disappeared in an unknown direction."


    For all the latest in-depth features and analysis of events in Ukraine, check out our special section on the BBC News website.


    Ukraine's parliament has approved a new government, with 331 out of 417 MPs voting in favour, BBC Monitoring reports.


    Speaking at a Nato news conference, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel urged Russia not to take any steps that could be "misinterpreted" or "lead to miscalculation during a delicate time". It comes as Russia performs a second day of military exercises near the border with Ukraine.


    Among the politicians taking up key roles in the interim government is Andriy Deshchytsya, who becomes foreign minister, and former Ukrainian navy chief Ihor Tenyukh, who gets the job of defence minister.


    Crowds of people supporting different sides in the crisis gathered outside the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev, as MPs voted on the new government inside.

    People belonging to different groups have a discussion as they wait in front of the Ukrainian parliament during a rally in Kiev on February 27, 2014
    Yuliya, UK

    emails: Crimea is full of Russian people. It is wrong of this new Ukrainian government to demand they stop speaking Russian and not associate themselves with Russia. Crimea should separate from Ukraine.


    Pro-Russian gunmen are still occupying administrative buildings in Crimea's state capital, Simferopol. Ukraine has put police and security forces in the region on high alert.

    A police officer stands guard near the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol on 27 February 2014
    Richard, Johannesburg, South Africa

    emails: The Ukrainian people are a wonderful nation with so much potential. It would be absolutely sad and a serious travesty if the country ended up like the Bosnian crisis. The UN and Europe must do everything in their power to prevent this from happening and assist the country in every way possible.


    Oleksandr Shlapak, a former deputy head of Ukraine's central bank, has been approved as the country's new finance minister. He said Ukraine is counting on negotiations continuing with Russia on financial co-operation and gas issues, according to Reuters.


    Ukraine's economy is in trouble and it needs financial assistance to avoid a default on its foreign debt. You can find out here more about who, if anyone, could provide the economic help the country needs.

    Kevin Bishop BBC News, Kiev

    tweets: Russians carry a huge flag along Gorky St in Simferopol by the parliament. Chanting Crimea for the Crimeans

    Russians carry a huge flag along Gorky Street in Simferopol by the parliament


    Good afternoon. If you are just joining us, the Crimean parliament has called for the autonomous region in Ukraine to hold a referendum on greater self-rule. Pro-Russian gunmen are occupying the parliament and government buildings in the capital Simferopol, while Russia has launched military exercises on its side of the border. Ukraine's interim government, which has been approved by MPs in Kiev, has warned that any movement by Russian troops outside their Black Sea naval base in Crimea will be seen as an act of aggression.


    The former opposition leader Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who's now been confirmed as interim prime minister, said in a speech to parliament before the vote: "The future of Ukraine is in Europe and Ukraine will become a member of the European Union."

    Arseniy Yatsenyuk

    The timing of Viktor Yanukovych's reported re-emergence in Russia is unsettling, says the BBC's diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall. You can read her analysis of that development here.


    After months of mass unrest in Ukraine, culminating in deadly violence and the removal of the elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, here is a look at some of the key players emerging.


    The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has confirmed Ukraine has requested IMF support, Reuters reports. She is quoted as saying that the IMF will send a team to Kiev in coming days, and is discussing with international partners how best to help.

    Martin Lee Thomas, Simferopol

    emails: The parliament building has been surrounded by protesters and police. Protesters are shouting 'Russia, Russia'. People here are pro-Russian. They do not want to be under the EU. Many people here will not be happy with the new government.


    More from Ukraine's newly appointed PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk. During his speech in parliament, he appealed directly to Moscow: "Russians, do not fight against us. We're friends. We are partners."


    The armed men who seized the Crimean parliament and government in Simferopol were special forces from Sevastopol, Ukraine's former security chief Yevhen Marchuk is quoted as saying by LigaBisnesInform news website.

    Arseniy Yatsenyuk's Fatherland party

    tweets: A meeting has just begun of the newly approved government led by Arseniy Yatsenyuk.


    Ukrainian officials have been repeatedly stressing that Russia must abide by the 1994 memorandum safeguarding Ukraine's borders. The memorandum was signed in Budapest after Kiev got rid of its nuclear weapons. Here's the full text of the document.


    There are fears that the southern region of Crimea could become a battleground between forces loyal to Ukraine and Russia - so what is so dangerous about it?

    Taras Denysenko, Kiev

    wtweets: "Russia is forcing #Ukraine into Nato"


    Nato sending a "wrong signal" by considering the situation in Ukraine, a spokesman for the Russian foreign ministry is quoted as saying by Reuters.


    German Chancellor Angela Merkel pledges to support Ukraine's new government which - she says - "has a tremendously difficult task" in reviving the country's economy.


    Neither the US or Nato has drafted contingency plans on a response if Russia were to intervene militarily in Ukraine's Crimea, Nato commander Philip Breedlove tells Reuters


    Ms Merkel's comments (see 15:02 entry) come after talks with British PM David Cameron. The two leaders stressed that Ukraine's territorial integrity must be respected.


    Meanwhile, IMF chief Christine Lagarde confirms that the organisation is "ready to respond" to Ukraine's request for support, and an IMF fact-finding mission will be going to Kiev "in the coming days".


    A pro-Russian rally is continuing near the seized parliamentary building in Crimea's capital Simferopol. Here, a man waves Russian and Crimean flags from an old Soviet army tank.

    A man with a Russian and a Crimean flags stand on an old Soviet army tank in Simferopol

    Switzerland is preparing to freeze any funds Ukraine's ousted President Viktor Yanukovych may have in the country's banks, Swiss Foreign Ministry spokesman Pierre-Alain Eltschinger tells the AFP news agency.


    Crimean parliamentary speaker Volodymyr Konstantinov tells a local TV channel the assembly will discuss expanding the region's autonomy at its emergency session. He says a referendum is planned on 25 May.


    UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said: "Every country should respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine. Russia has made that commitment and it's important that Russia keeps its word. The world will be watching."


    Ukraine's interim President Oleksandr Turchynov is to urgently fly to Simferopol, reports in Ukraine's media say.

    Chris, Bucharest

    emails: Ukrainians are lovely, peaceful and generous people. But, they had undergone decades of corruption and suffered an infrastructure that is disintegrating. The patience of Ukrainians is long, but it was overdue to burst. I am glad they moved against the corrupt government and have started the process of reconstruction. Crimea is on the middle of the Ukrainian coast. It is ridiculous to claim it is Russia. Ukraine would be best served by staying independent. Not aligning itself with either Russia or Europe, but remaining as a buffer zone between the two. Yes, make deals with both, be the financial crossroads of East and West, but don't become part of either.


    tweets: #Turkish Foreign Minister is going to visit #Crimea soon - theinsider |PR News #Ukraine

    Elmar Janahmadov, London

    emails: The fact that there are 60% Russian speakers in Crimea doesn't make them all pro-Moscow. So the referendum for the integration with Russia might only have 40% supporters.


    Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych is to hold a news conference on Friday in Russian southern city Rostov-On-Don, reports in Russian media say.


    Newly appointed PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk is seen here speaking to Ukraine's cabinet ministers during their first meeting.

    Newly appointed Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk (L) speaks at a cabinet meeting in Kiev on 27 February 2014

    Russia's foreign ministry says the movement of its Black Sea Fleet armour units in Crimea were "in full accordance" with agreements signed between Kiev and Moscow. Earlier reports from Ukraine suggested Russia may have violated the agreements.


    US Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken on the phone with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and proposed that the two countries co-operate on the crisis in Ukraine, the Russian foreign ministry is quoted as saying by Reuters.

    Ruslan Asanov, Crimea

    emails: I'm a Ukrainian national that lives in Crimea where currently we have dramatic events. I'm a supporter of the Ukrainian government, but local anti-Russian protesters had clashes with pro-Russians yesterday and seemed to win but this morning some armed people seized Crimean government buildings.

    Crimea was a calm place until two Russian deputies came two days ago and promised pro-Russian organisations assistance if they choose to separate from Ukraine. They also promised to grant Russian citizenship in a simplified routine for those who wish to obtain it. I think the Russians just want to destabilise the situation in our region.

    16:29: Breaking News

    Crimean MPs - who are holding their session in the seized building in Simferopol - dismiss the region's government, Ukraine's news agency says.


    In Simferopol, pro-Russian activists have also unfurled a giant Russian flag, as they continue to rally in Crimea's capital.

    A giant Russian flag unfurled in Simferopol. Photo: 27 February 2014

    Ferry services between the east Crimean town of Kerch and Russia have been suspended because of "technical problems", a news agency in Kerch reports.


    More on the Kerry-Lavrov conversation (see 16:19 entry). Mr Lavrov stressed on the importance of upholding an EU-brokered deal between Viktor Yanukovych and opposition leaders last Friday, Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency reports. The Russian foreign ministry said claims that the deal had already played its role were "not serious". The deal said a national unity government would be installed and Mr Yanukovych would stay on until a presidential poll was held by the end of the year. But Ukrainian MPs have since voted to oust him and hold presidential elections on 25 May.


    "Of all the potential conflicts in post-revolutionary Ukraine, none is more important than a serious crisis in Crimea," argue the authors of this analysis piece published by the Carnegie Moscow Center.


    Many people in Ukraine are deeply religious, and prayers have been held regularly at the main protest camp in Kiev, the Maidan. This protester in Kiev is wearing a helmet with an image of Jesus Christ painted on.

    A man wears a helmet with a painting depicting Jesus Christ during a demonstration rally in Kiev on 27 February 2014.
    Duncan Crawford BBC News, Kiev

    says opposition leaders in Ukraine now have another example to hold up of the corruption at the heart of Mr Yanukovych's government - the $37bn (£22bn) that new PM Arseny Yatsenuuk says has disappeared from state coffers.


    Any referendum held in Crimea would be illegitimate, Ukraine's electoral committee member Yuriy Donchenko is quoted as saying by Espreso TV. He says this is because Ukraine's parliament is yet to pass a bill on changes to local and regional referendums.


    Routes leading from Ukraine's southern regions to Crimea have been blocked by armed men with Russian flags, Ukraine's TSN news programme reports. The men say they want Crimea to become part of Russia and also prevent "fascists" from entering the region.


    "Will Ukraine's Crimea region be Europe's next 'frozen' conflict?" asks Eastern Europe analyst Joerg Forbrig.


    The Moscow-backed Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, expresses concern over developments in Crimea and urges Tatar leaders in that part of Ukraine to show "common sense" and protect everyone from "rash actions", BBC Monitoring reports.

    17:36: Nadin Berezovska, Kiev
    Flowers and candles left for those who died in Kiev Tributes to those who died in Kiev

    Nadin Berezovska in Kiev sent in this photo of people leaving flowers and candles in memory of the dozens of Maidan protesters killed in last week's clashes in the capital. She said many people had come to pay their respects to those who died - known as the Celestial One Hundred among Ukrainians.


    European Parliament lawmakers have adopted a non-binding resolution saying that EU still stands ready to sign an association deal with Kiev. The document says it's not "the final goal in EU-Ukraine co-operation", hinting for the first time that membership in the bloc may be possible later.


    Crimean MPs have elected Serhiy Aksionov, the leader of the Russian Unity party, as the region's new prime minister, reports from Simferopol say.


    Actor Yevhen Nishchuk frequently took to the stage in Kiev's Independence Square - the focus of anti-Yanukovych protests. Today, the "voice of Maidan" appeared on a different sort of platform has he stood in parliament after being appointed Ukraine's culture minister.

    Actor Yevhen Nishchuk stands in parliament after being appointed Ukrainian culture minister

    We are now bringing to an end our live updates of Thursday's events in Ukraine, where tensions flared in Crimea as armed men took over key government offices. You can read the full story here and follow all the latest news on the BBC News website.

    A man waves a Russian flag in front of a local parliament building during a pro-Russian rally in Simferopol, Crimea, on 27 February 2014

    Here is a final photograph of pro-Russian protesters outside the local parliament building in Simferopol tonight where the stand-off over Crimea's future continues.


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