As it happened: Ukraine crisis

Key Points

  • Ukraine's acting President Oleksander Turchynov has accused Russia of deploying troops to Crimea and trying to provoke Kiev into "armed conflict"
  • It comes amid unconfirmed reports that Russian planes have flown hundreds of troops into the region
  • Armed men have blockaded airports in Crimea, Ukraine's only Russian-majority region and home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet
  • Russia has denied involvement. President Vladimir Putin said sides had to stop "a further escalation of violence"
  • US President Barack Obama warns Russia that "there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine" All times GMT
  • At a news conference in Russia, Ukraine's ousted President Viktor Yanukovych says he is against any outside military intervention

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    Welcome to our live page on the developing crisis in Crimea - Ukraine's only Russian-majority region and the home of Russia's Black Sea fleet.

    Men in Russian military uniforms are blockading a military airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol. Meanwhile, men in military uniform without national insignia are patrolling an airport in the Crimean capital Simferopol.


    Ukraine's newly appointed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in a Facebook post that the Belbek international airport in Sevastopol is blocked by military units of the Russian navy, calling it a "military invasion and occupation.''


    The Interfax news agency reports that Russian servicemen wearing helmets and armoured body protection and backed by armoured personnel carriers, have taken up position on the perimeter of a military airport at Sevastopol. The agency quoted military sources in the region as saying that they had gone to Belbek military airport to stop "fighters" flying in.


    A spokesman for the airport in Simferopol has told the Interfax Ukraine news agency that it is operating normally despite the presence of the armed men filmed patrolling it.


    Russian President Vladimir Putin has also ordered his government to continue talks with Ukraine on economic and trade relations and to consult foreign partners including the IMF and the G8 on financial aid, a statement on the Kremlin's website said. It also said Putin has ordered the government to consider a request from Crimea for humanitarian aid.


    It is not the only crisis facing the new Ukranian government: its currency, the hryvnia, has slumped to an all-time low. The IMF has said it is ready to step in and will send a team in the coming days to assess the economic situation, but Ukraine's finance ministry has warned it needs help urgently - and 35 billion dollars over the next two years to avoid defaulting on its debt.

    Julia Smirnova, Die Welt Reporter

    tweets: Road to Sevastopol airport blocked by armed people

    08:00: The BBC's Daviel Sandford

    tweets: Simferopol airport now. Armed men still here.

    Armed men at Simferopol airport

    An armed man in a uniform without an insignia patrols at the airport in Simferopol.

    An armed man in a uniform without an insignia patrols at the airport in Simferopol
    Julia Smirnova, Die Welt Reporter

    tweets: Locals who now guard the airport together with them told me, trucks with armed people came yesterday evening between 10 and 11 pm

    08:28: Daniel Sandford BBC News, Simferopol

    There is an old airport building - not one of the terminals, but containing the control tower - which has been taken over by armed men. They arrived in trucks in the night. They have green uniforms with no markings. The uniforms include ballistic helmets and body armour, but are not all exactly the same.

    They are definitely not the Ukrainian army. They could be a pro-Russian militia or they could be Russian troops. They don't want to say who they are but are being helped by pro-Russian activists, who are keeping cameras at a distance.


    Austria has frozen assets of 18 Ukrainians suspected of violating human rights and of involvement in corruption, AFP is quoting the country's foreign ministry of saying. The Austrian ministry did not release the names of those affected.


    Russia's Black Sea Fleet says its forces have not seized or taken any other action at the military airport near Sevastopol, Interfax news agency is reporting.

    Michael McFaul Former US ambassador to Russia

    tweets: For years I have heard Russian govt officials, including VVP, emphasize the respect for sovereignty as the most important international norm


    A spokesman for Russia's Black Sea Fleet tells Interfax news agency that while its forces have not been deployed at Belbek, security has been stepped up around existing bases in Crimea.


    The head of the night shift at Belbek, Anatoliy Rechenko, says there are around 300 armed men there, Ukraine's Unian news agency reports. He thinks they are "Russian servicemen". The airport is now closed and all flights have been cancelled, Mr Rechenko adds.

    Christian Fraser BBC News, Sevastopol

    tweets: Welcome to Sevastopol Int airport. Who are the men in the trucks?!!

    Men in military uniform at Sevastopol Int airport

    Voice of Russia radio has just tweeted: "Russian soldiers are not taking part in the blockade of Belbek aerodrome - press service of the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet."


    Meanwhile the stand-off continues at the Crimean parliament, which yesterday agreed to hold a referendum on Crimea's status, to be held on 25 May.

    A hand-painted sign reading "Crimea Russia" lies beside a flag on a barricade outside the Crimean parliament building on 28 February
    Douglas Herbert, International Affairs Editor at France 24,

    tweets: Scene in departures terminal of #Simferopol airport, steps from where unknown machine-gun toting soldiers patrol.


    A Ukrainian TV station says a Russian military missile boat has blocked the entrance to Balaklava Bay in Sevastopol, BBC Monitoring reports. Around 20 Russian marines are outside the Ukrainian border unit in Balaklava, according to the Ukrainian private station 5 Kanal.


    Ukraine's government has called on the UN Security Council to monitor the situation in the country - Reuters.

    The BBC's Kevin Bishop

    tweets: [Russia's] Life News also reporting checkpoints have gone up again on roads leading into Crimea from rest of Ukraine.

    The BBC's Kevin Bishop

    tweets: When I studied USSR at Uni, little did I expect Ukrainian Interior minister to accuse Russia of invading on Facebook

    The BBC's Kevin Bishop

    tweets: Life News is reporting 300 armed men blocking road to Belbek airport near Sevastopol. Quoting witnesses.

    09:10: Mark Lowen BBC News, Ukraine

    Clearly there is a show of strength from Russia in Crimea. Moscow wants to show that it is very much present here and it commands a lot of support in this region.


    Our colleagues at BBC Monitoring say Ukraine's Interfax news agency is quoting the newly appointed PM of Crimea saying the residents in the region are safe. Serhiy Aksyonov says the situation in Crimea is "fully controlled by him and the chairman of the Crimean Supreme Council, Volodymyr Konstantynov".

    Mark Lowen BBC News, Ukraine

    tweets: #Ukraine Interior Min calls #Crimea airport takeover "armed occupation, intervention" by Moscow. #Russia Black Sea Fleet says not involved


    MPs from a party in the Russian parliament, A Just Russia, intend to submit a bill making it easier for new territories to join the Russian Federation, Russian state TV reports. Via BBC Monitoring


    Here is another image of the armed men outside Simferopol international airport. The men in military uniform do not appear to be wearing any identifying insignia but they are accompanied by pro-Russian groups wearing the Ribbon of St George.

    armed men outside Simferopol international airport

    Foreign cash withdrawal limit announced by Ukrainian central bank: citizens are being restricted to withdrawing a maximum of 15,000 hryvna in foreign currency (£894; 1,089 euros; $1,490) a day. Currency has dropped sharply in value this year amid the political turmoil.

    09:39: Christian Fraser BBC News, Sevastopol

    We have had no interaction so far with forces that occupy the main approach to the Sevastopol airport - but judging by the distance this paramilitary unit is keeping and the high-powered assault rifles they are carrying, they are not exactly inviting any questions.

    Sevastopol is by name an international airport, but civilian flights stopped some years ago. It is owned by the Ukrainian ministry of defence and is home to Mig 29's of the Ukrainian air force. So it would be of no real consequence that soldiers are guarding a military base were it not for the fact no-none knows whose orders they are obeying, and of course it follows a pattern.

    Anders Ostlund, Kiev

    tweets: Foreign aggression towards democratic European nation not tolerated. The international community must act! #EuroMaidan #Russia #Ukraine

    Alexey Leonov-Vendrovskiy, Kirkland, US

    emails: I lived in Ukraine for many years. All these events are a worry to me. I believe that interim government must stand on neutrality. The current government has never won any elections.

    It must not make any reforms, it must not make any pro-Europe movements, or pro-Russian, until the elections. People please stop fighting, focus on selecting new leaders! Otherwise your power will be stolen again.


    The UK foreign office has updated its travel advice for Ukraine, warning British nationals not to try to leave from Simferopol airport "until the situation becomes clearer".

    Gary Smith, Northumberland, UK

    emails: The people of Ukraine just want a peaceful country and to have a fair and democratic country . My girlfriend lives in Kharkov and she is very worried about what will happen in the next few weeks in the Ukraine and in her city.


    The columnist Anne Applebaum writes in Slate that a full-scale invasion by Russia is "entirely unnecessary" because the country already has a host of non-military tactics that could undermine the new Ukrainian government, many of which have been used successfully in the past. She says Russia will be focusing instead on provocative strategies to destabilise the country.

    Myrosia Matwijiwskyj, London

    tweets: Small steps in the right direction... #Ukraine's Minister of Economy, #Sheremeta, arrives at work by metro. #Euromaidan

    Daniel Sandford BBC News, Simferopol

    tweets: Simferopol airport now

    Armed men outside Simferopol airport

    Events in Ukraine move fast but you can read about some of the makers and shakers in our mini-profiles.


    Ukraine's interim President, Olexander Turchynov, has accused Russia of aggravating the crisis. He told parliament in Kiev: "Unfortunately... the armed forces of the Russian Federation are becoming directly involved in the escalation of this conflict and... are moving around the Autonomous Republic of Crimea with arms in areas which were not agreed with Ukraine."

    Olga Tokariuk, Journalist, Kiev

    tweets: Ability to debate the economy on Twitter with new #Ukraine minister @PavloSheremeta is a priceless achievement of #euromaidan #openpolitics

    Daniel Sandford BBC News, Simferopol

    tweets: Patrolling much more openly now

    Armed men outside Simferopol airport
    10:18: Bridget Kendall BBC Diplomatic correspondent, Moscow

    A lot of focus being given to what's happening politically in Crimea as well as the presence of armed groups. We know that Russian MPs have been to Crimea and are consulting closely. Some in the Russian parliament also say laws should be changed to make it easier for people in Crimea to take Russian citizenship.

    All that is just debate, but it gives you a flavour of the mood here and does raise the question as to whether the Russian government is involved behind the scenes - particularly because it has now given sanctuary to former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

    Alexey Yaroshevsky Russia Today reporter

    tweets: I've seen people at Kiev Maidan wearing US and UK military uniforms, didn't think it was invasion. The crimeans wear simple camo, not russian

    10:31: Breaking News

    Ukraine's interim President, Olexander Turchynov, has dismissed the head of the armed forces, Admiral Yuriy Ilyin.

    Alan Cullison, Moscow Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal

    tweets: Numerous military trucks without markings without plates moving around #Sevastopol. #Ukraine #maidan #euromaidan


    Adm Yuriy Ilyin was appointed by former President Viktor Yanukovych in February. Reports say he was admitted to hospital with a heart attack on Thursday, our colleagues at BBC Monitoring say.

    Christian Fraser BBC News, Sevastopol

    Look who is hiding in the bay at Balaclava - Russian frigate! Blockade?

    Russian military boat outside Balaklava Bay in Crimea

    There is an unconfirmed Ukrainian media report that eight Russian military helicopters have arrived in Sevastopol from Russia itself.

    Matthew Fisher, Foreign affairs columnist for Postmedia News of Canada

    tweets: Standoff outside Belbak Airport. Road blocked. Russian officer talking to heavily armed men on blockaide. #Ukraine #crimea# #sevastopol


    Swiss authorities have launched a criminal investigation into alleged money-laundering by Ukraine's former President, Viktor Yanukovych, and his son Aleksander.


    This man in combat gear was standing outside Simferopol airport, carrying a machine-gun.

    A man in combat uniform armed with a machine-gun outside Simferopol airport, 28 February
    11:17: Daniel Sandford BBC News, Simferopol

    says he has just passed 10 lorries with Russian military plates full of men on the road heading from Sevastopol towards Simferopol.

    11:27: Eleanor Montague BBC News, Sevastopol

    sent this photo of a Russian warship in Balaklava Bay off the coast of Sevastopol. She says: "We are standing on the coast looking at a single Russian ship. A few locals are watching but tell us that it is quite usual to see this."

    Russian warship in Balaklava Bay
    K, Ukraine

    emails: The people of Sevastopol are VERY worried right now. The lives of many thousands of people are no longer in their own hands.


    Ukraine's general prosecutor has said that Ukraine will ask Russia to extradite the ousted President, Viktor Yanukovych, if it's confirmed that he's there.


    Controversial Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky has arrived in Simferopol airport, according to a blogger writing on the Ukrainska Pravda news website. He left the airport in a motorcade, blogger Oleksiy Goncharenko writes.

    Oleh, Kiev

    emails: Why is everyone saying that ethnic Russians make up the majority of the Crimean population when the last such poll was conducted in 2001? With the Russian share falling since then, a lot of Crimean Tatars came back from deportation, as well as Ukrainians settling.

    J, Ukraine

    emails: We, the citizens of Sevastopol are VERY worried by the events. Even here, we don't know from whose side these guys are from. General consensus is that if they are Russian then the future is one of hope because no one here can afford the austerity cuts that the IMF will require. Salaries are barely enough to pay the utility bills even at the currently massively discounted price. Once the IMF steps in, ordinary citizens will NOT be able to afford to buy food, it's as simple as that. If they (the armed men) are Ukrainian, the general mood is one of "defeat" and subservience to Kiev.

    11:47: Bridget Kendall BBC Diplomatic correspondent, Moscow

    says she does not expect Moscow to respond favourably to a request from Kiev to extradite Viktor Yanukovych. She says the former president's forthcoming press conference, and reports Russia has granted him protection, suggest Moscow is sympathetic towards him.


    Flowers and candles mark the spot where a protester was killed in a clash with riot police in Kiev this month.

    Flowers and candles mark the spot where a protester was killed in a clash with riot police in Kiev

    Viktor Yanukovych has landed at the military airport in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, his plane escorted by fighter jets, local news agency DonInformBuro reports. He is due to give a news conference shortly.


    "You could hear the roar of fighter jets over the capital of the [Russian] south," the agency writes.


    The crisis in Ukraine following the toppling of Mr Yanukovych is now firmly focused on the autonomous region of Crimea - the only part of the country with a Russian majority, and the home of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. The BBC is covering the crisis with reporters at the scene. You can see their updates on the situation on the ground here.


    It may be worth remembering that under the 1999 agreement governing the presence of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, all Russian troop movements outside their official base areas are meant to be agreed beforehand with the Ukrainian authorities.

    US Russia-watcher Mark Adomanis

    tweets: Just for once I'd like the Swiss to freeze the accounts of a corrupt autocrat *before* he's driven from power by an outraged citizenry


    Good afternoon. If you're just joining us, welcome to the BBC's live coverage of the crisis in Ukraine where two airports in Crimea are being occupied by armed men in military uniform. Ukraine's interior minister has accused Russian naval forces of an "armed invasion", but Russia's Black Sea Fleet has denied that Russian servicemen are taking part. Meanwhile Ukraine's prosecutor-general says Ukraine will ask Russia to extradite the ousted President, Viktor Yanukovych. Mr Yanukovych is expected to hold a news conference in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don shortly.

    Richard Galpin BBC News

    tweets: Crowds of journalists waiting for ousted #ukraine president #yanukovych news conf in #russia

    Journalists waiting for Yanukovych news conference

    Crimea's airports are back under the control of Ukrainian law enforcement officers, according to Andriy Parubiy, acting chairman of Ukraine's National Security Council. His words were quoted by Russian news agency Interfax. He added that people who had tried to seize the airports were now manning roadblocks near the airports.


    One of Crimea's top parliamentary officials, Serhiy Tsekov, is quoted by Ukraine's Interfax news agency as saying that the armed men who entered the parliament building in Simferopol on Thursday are still inside, BBC Monitoring reports. "They came at the invitation of Crimean MPs and will remain here as long as we ask them to," Mr Tsekov apparently told journalists.


    Russia's interior ministry is inviting former Ukrainian policemen who leave Ukraine to join their ranks in the Russian provinces. They can sign up after acquiring Russian citizenship, it says. During the violent unrest this winter, Ukrainian police officers, and especially the elite Berkut unit, were accused of crimes against protesters, including murder.

    Photo taken in December 2013 shows Berkut riot police storming the barricades set up by pro-EU protesters on Independence Square in Kiev.
    Nataly Stevens, Nottingham

    emails: My mother and brother are in Ukraine, near the Black Sea. The news they are getting is quite different from ours. They were completely unaware of the seriousness of the situation in Crimea. The armed forces, they think, are there only to 'monitor' the situation. There is a sense of disappointment with the lack of action from the new Ukrainian government and also fear that the salaries/pensions will be 'frozen' due to the lack of funds; the general chaos will remain for a long time and that the long awaited help from the UN will never come. Many people have already lost their life savings due to the 'crash' of the dollar.

    Juri Maloverjan BBC Russian Service

    tweeted this photograph ahead of Viktor Yanukovych's press conference in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. It seems the ousted president of Ukraine will still be flying his country's flag.

    Ukrainian flags on show ahead of Yanukovych press conference
    12:54: Breaking News

    Yulia Tymoshenko is planning to stand for president at the next election in Ukraine, her rival Vitali Klitschko has announced. She told him of her intentions in a conversation on Wednesday, he said, speaking to reporters at the Ukrainian parliament in Kiev.


    (see 12:54 entry) Mr Klitschko confirmed his own presidential bid still stood. He said: "The day before yesterday, I contacted Yulia Tymoshenko. She also expressed her opinion that she wants to stand for election in the presidential campaign."

    He added: "I see nothing wrong with it but it will look very odd if opposition forces compete with each other."

    13:11: Breaking News

    Viktor Yanukovych has just begun his first news conference since being overthrown. He is speaking in Rostov, southern Russia.


    Mr Yanukovych, speaking in Russian, says he had to leave Ukraine because of the threat to his life.


    The Ukrainian authorities say they have regained control of two Crimean airports seized during an "armed invasion" by Russian forces. Russia's navy previously denied involvement.


    "Fascist hooligans" have taken power in Ukraine, Mr Yanukovych says.


    "Nobody overthrew me," Mr Yanukovych says. "I was forced to leave Ukraine under a threat to my life. And to the lives of my loved ones."


    "I intend to continue the fight for the future of Ukraine," Mr Yanukovych says. "Against those who try to occupy it through fear and terror."

    A, London

    emails: I am a Russian living in London, with family and a home in Crimea. The situation is very alarming, particularly the way this has fuelled ethnic tensions between the Tatars and Russians in the region. Given the historic displacement and suffering of the Tatar people there, I hope this does not escalate further, particularly with religious rhetoric. I have seen first-hand peaceful co-existence and mutually beneficial business relationships between the two peoples, even if I'm sure the balance of power has been uneven. On a personal level, it is certainly possible, and occurs every day.


    Mr Yanukovych says the new government in Ukraine has no genuine authority from parliament. "People who preach violence" have come to power he says. Andriy Parubiy, Dmytro Yarosh and Oleh Tyahnybok are people who "strike fear into Israel". See our guide to key players.

    Viktor Yanukovych gives press conference in Russia

    Describing his flight from Ukraine, the deposed president says he left Kiev for the city of Kharkiv before moving on to Donetsk, then Luhansk. From there he went on to Crimea.


    "Everything happening in Crimea now is a natural reaction to the gangster coup in Kiev," Mr Yanukovych says. Appealing for calm, he says Crimea should remain an autonomous part of Ukraine.

    Rodica from Moldova

    says: "Watching Yanukovych live! Unbelievable how after all these deaths this man won't admit that his term is up?"


    "I will return to Ukraine as soon as the safety of myself and my family can be guaranteed," Mr Yanukovych says.


    Mr Yanukovych says he is in Rostov because he has a good old friend living nearby who is giving him shelter.


    Mr Yanukovych says he is not asking Russia for military help: "I believe that any military actions are unacceptable. I believe Ukraine should remain united and undivided."

    Tamas Morvay, pro-Israeli blog editor @EditorMorvay

    tweets: Yanukovych: "Crimea to remain part of the #Ukraine" - whatever that means, when spoken from inside Russia!"

    Matthew Price BBC News

    tweets: IMPORTANT Yanukovic "Crimeans - do not allow blood to be shed. Do not allow conflict. Crimea must remain part of Ukraine."

    Duncan Crawford BBC News

    The killing of protesters? Who gave the order for snipers to fire? The galleon? The ostriches? The billions missing? Please...


    Asked by a journalist, Mr Yanukovych says he considers the presidential election set for 25 May in Ukraine to be illegal and he will not take part.


    tweets: Hey Yanukovych, it's customary to stay in your country if you plan to fight for it, not run and hide under Russia's skirt. #Russia #Ukraine


    Mr Yanukovych says he has not met Russian President Vladimir Putin yet but did speak to him by phone.


    Mr Yanukovych strongly criticises Western governments, accusing them of aggravating the crisis. In his opening remarks, he said: "The disturbances and victims are the consequences of the political crisis, the result of the irresponsible policies of the West, which encouraged the Maidan [radical opposition movement]."


    Mr Yanukovych defends the actions of Berkut police commandos, saying they were under attack. The Berkut unit has been disbanded by the new authorities in Kiev as investigations begin into the mass shooting of protesters.


    Controversial Russian politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky greets pro-Russian activists prior to a speech on the main square of Sevastopol.

    Vladimir Zhirinovsky greets pro-Russian people prior to his eon the main square of Sevastopol on February 28, 2014.

    Mr Yanukovych tells journalists: "I don't think there is a single person in this hall who would derive pleasure from what's going on in Kiev."

    Natalia Antelava BBC News

    tweets: No properly tough questions at Yanukovich presser. Hardly surprising

    Monika Adamczyk from Austria

    tweets: "A country leader who is afraid to face his own people doesn't deserve to be their leader" #Yanukovych


    Just a reminder if you are joining us, that Viktor Yanukovych, the deposed president of Ukraine, is giving his first news conference since fleeing to Russia. Speaking in Russian in Rostov-on-Don, he said gangsters had seized power in Kiev and that he wanted to see his country remain united, amid fears of separatism in the Crimea region.


    "I never gave orders for the police to shoot," Mr Yanukovych says. But police have the right to self-defence, he adds.


    Mr Yanukovych says he is surprised the Russian president has still to react. "Knowing the character of Vladimir Putin, I am astonished that he is still keeping quiet with such restraint."

    David Blair, Daily Telegraph chief foreign correspondent @davidblairdt

    tweets: People in #Maidan gather round cars to listen to Yanukovych press conf on radio. Much derisive laughter.


    "I am categorically opposed to an invasion of Ukraine and the violation of its integrity," Mr Yanukovych says.


    Ukraine's border authority say its base in Sevastopol has been surrounded by Russian navy servicemen. Here a Ukrainian border guard looks out of a window at the base.

    An armed Ukrainian border guard looks out of a window as the base is surrounded by armed Russian navy servicemen in Balaklava, in the Crimea region 28 February 2014

    Mr Yanukovych says he has no information about Russian military involvement in events in Crimea this week. "These are only rumours; I don't have more information on this issue."


    Mr Yanukovych is bringing his news conference to an end with a warning to those who overthrew him. "Please end this outrage, you will be brought to account for this," he says.


    "I want to apologise to all those who have suffered and are still suffering," Mr Yanukovych says.


    "I will be with the people of Ukraine and not these scum - nationalists and Bandera men," Mr Yanukovuch says, using a derogatory term for those suspected collaborating with the Nazis.

    @MarkKersten LSE International Relations PhD student

    tweets: Will Russia use R2P [responsibility to protect] rhetoric to justify "protecting" ethnic Russians in Crimea? Precedence in Georgia, South Ossetia & Abkhazia. #Ukraine


    The first news conference by Ukraine's deposed president since he fled Ukraine is now over.


    Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine's interim prime minister, watched the news conference by TV from Kiev.

    Arseniy Yatsenyuk, interim prime minister, watches the Yanukovych news conference from Kiev, 28 February

    Swiss and Austrian authorities say they will block any assets that may have been hidden in the Alpine nations by former President Yanukovych and his son Olexandr, while the Swiss authorities launch a corruption investigation against them, AP reports.


    "We do not see anything that is critical, that is worthy of panic at the moment," IMF chief Christine Lagarde is quoted by AFP as saying after talks on Ukraine with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

    @markmackinnon Globe and Mail senior international correspondent

    tweets: So: the Maidan controls Kiev, gunmen run Crimea, Putin won't talk to him, but Yanukovych still says he's president of Ukraine...


    Ethnic Russians in Crimea have launched a petition, urging Russian President Putin not to invade Ukraine's autonomous region, Unian news agency reports. "We don't need our interests to be protected by other countries... we have always lived freely and happily (in Crimea)".

    14:49: Roland Oliphant. Daily Telegraph Moscow correspondent

    tweets: New head of Crimean regional government says President Yanukovych is still president, will take instructions from him.


    Moscow will take part in talks on an IMF financial aid to Ukraine and will not stand aside, Andrei Bokarev, head of the Russian finance ministry's international relations department, is quoted as saying by Reuters.


    Will Russia invade Crimea? BBC Diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus has this analysis.


    Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya says he has received no response from his Russian counterpart to his repeated requests for talks on the crisis, Ukraine's website says (BBC Monitoring).


    More on Mr Yanukovych's news conference. People opposed to the ousted president have been using social media site Instagram to send pictures of the former president as he was speaking, adding offensive gestures as reaction. Here are some of the photos, as supplied by BBC Monitoring in Kiev.

    Ukrainians react to Viktor Yanukovych's news conference

    Russia will defend the rights of its compatriots in a "strong and uncompromising" manner, its foreign ministry is quoted by Reuters as saying.


    Ukraine's prosecutor-general office has instructed the interior ministry to arrest 24 officials within 10 days in connection with last week's deaths in Kiev during the clashes. The wanted officials include the former head of the SBU (state security service) Oleksandr Yakymenko, ex-boss of the interior ministry Vitaly Zakharchenko and also Serhiy Kusyuk, who led the Berkut special police units.

    15:21: Vitaly Klitschko, Ukraine's opposition leader

    tweets: Yanukovych must be returned to Ukraine. He must answer for what he has done.


    The UN is considering Ukraine's request for a Security Council meeting to discuss the crisis, a senior diplomat is quoted by AP as saying. But it says any Kiev request for council help to protect it from Russia would be "problematic at best", because Moscow is is a veto-wielding permanent member of the council.


    The Crimean Tatar Mejlis does not recognise a Crimean government formed on Thursday, Mejlis leader Refat Chubarov's spokeswoman is quoting him as saying, according to Unian news agency. Mr Chubarov says the cabinet "was formed practically at gunpoint", referring to the seizure of government officers by unknown attackers.


    Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov appeals for calm following Friday's developments in Crimea, which he blames on "criminals in military fatigues", Reuters reports.


    Events in Ukraine have been changing at neck-breaking speed over the last few days: President Yanukovych has been ousted, a new government has been formed and Crimea has become a new flashpoint. In Kiev, activists at the main protest camp, the Maidan, vow to stay on and continue monitoring how the new authorities are performing. This photo suggests that they may be there for a long haul.

    Protesters' hanging laundry on the Maidan

    In response to the news that armed men carrying Russian flags were patrolling two airports in Crimea, BBC News website reader Mehrdad Ketabchi tweets: Just wait; pretty soon #Russians will be patrolling #Kiev. #Ukraine


    Russian planes are landing in Crimea and a column of armoured personnel carriers is approaching Simferopol, Ukrainska Pravda website is reporting (BBC Monitoring)


    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discusses the Ukraine crisis with US Secretary of State John Kerry and makes a new call for a peace deal brokered by the EU last week, Reuters reports.


    Mr Lavrov says Russia has no intention of violating Ukraine's sovereignty, Reuters quotes him a saying.


    British Prime Minister David Cameron telephones Russia's President Putin to discuss the crisis in Ukraine and especially escalating tensions in Crimea, BBC Millbank reports.


    The BBC News website now has a new gallery on the ongoing Ukraine crisis - with images from Crimea and other parts of Ukraine.


    In his first major speech since losing the French presidency in 2012, Nicolas Sarkozy urges Europe to offer Ukraine - along with Belarus, Georgia and Russia - a "new framework" for co-operation. He also cautions the West against a "catastrophic" clash with Moscow, AFP reports.


    President Putin agrees with British PM David Cameron that free and fair elections in Ukraine are the best way to secure a positive future for the country, Reuters reports, quoting the PM's office.


    Russia is ready to help Ukraine as it seeks to stave off economic collapse, US Secretary of State John Kerry says after discussing the crisis with his Russian counterpart, AFP reports.


    More on the Kerry-Lavrov phone conversation. America's top diplomat tells his Russian counterpart it was important not to inflame the situation in Ukraine, Reuters reports. Mr Kerry warns all parties not to take steps that could be "misinterpreted".


    A convoy of nine Russian armoured personnel carriers and a truck have been seen by AP journalists on a road between the Crimean port city of Sevastopol and the regional capital, Sinferopol, the news agency says.

    @skymarkwhite Sky News Home Affairs correspondent

    tweets: BREAKING - UK Foreign office alert warns against all travel to #Crimea - British nationals already there should leave by commercial means

    @RyskeldiSatke, writer with research institutions & news organizations

    tweets: Crimea Tatar leader Chubarov:"If split happens in Crimea, the Tatars will suffer the most." #Euromaidan


    Here's a dramatic and previously unseen footage from BBC's Jack Garland and Gabriel Gatehouse in Kiev: Ukraine: BBC witnesses Kiev revolt

    @mchastain81 editor of Breitbart News

    tweets: Sergey Aksyonov, PM of Crimea, said there is no need for Russian military involvement. #Ukraine #Kiev #Kyiv #Euromaidan


    Ex-President Yanukovych and his son Oleksandr top the list of 18 Ukrainian officials who are now under asset sanctions in Austria, the country's Die Presse newspaper reports.


    All aircraft movements at Sevastopol's Belbek airfield are stopped after unidentified individuals seized the runway, a military source tells the Interfax-Ukraine news agency (BBC Monitoring).


    The UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine delayed - may now happen at 1500 New York time (2000 GMT), the BBC's Nick Bryant reports.


    Ukraine would see the economic benefits of a free trade deal with the EU within weeks of signing it, enhancing the near-bankrupt nation's standing in the eyes of its creditors, EU trade chief Karel De Gucht tells Reuters.


    tweets: Breaking: Russia says its troops are moving in Crimea. Confirms armoured vehicles moved from naval base


    British Foreign Secretary William Hague is planning to visit Kiev "shortly", the foreign office tells the BBC's Paul Adams.


    Ukraine's interim President Oleksandr Turchynov appoints Mykhailo Kutsyn as the country's new chief of General Staff. He replaces Yuiy Ilyin, who was in charge during last week's deadly clashes in Kiev.


    Russia says it will fast-track passports for members of Ukraine's Berkut riot police after the unit was disbanded by Kiev's new authorities, AFP reports. The force has been accused of using snipers to shoot protesters during the dying days of President Yanukovych's regime. Russian authorities are quoted as saying that the passports will be issued in Crimea's capital Simferopol.


    Airspace around Simferopol in Crimea is closed, according to BBC Russian Service producer Oleg Boldyrev.


    As tensions grow in Crimea, Ukraine warns Russia that all its troop movements must conform to earlier signed bilateral agreements. Moscow says its vehicles from the Black Sea Fleet are moving for "security" reasons, according to the Associated Press. Here, Russian armoured personnel carriers and a truck are seen parked on the side of the road near the town of Bakhchysarai.

    Russian armoured personnel carriers and a truck near Bakhchysarai, Crimea. Photo: 28 February 2014

    Ukraine's hryvnia jumped as much as 10% on Friday on hopes of a loan from the IMF, Reuters reports. It says there are signs of stabilisation on financial markets in Ukraine - despite the Crimean tensions - after the country formed an interim government and said it would abide by the conditions of any IMF loan agreement.


    German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns about destabilisation in Ukraine in a telephone conversation with President Putin of Russia, Reuters reports. She says offers by international organisations to help solve the crisis should be taken up.

    Dissident Science blogger @tony_hartin

    tweets: Cant see how the new #Kiev regime can last. The instant #Yatsenyuk implements an #IMF diktat, #Maidan will knock down his door #Ukraine


    A White House daily news briefing - with Ukraine prominent on the agenda - is expected imminently, BBC's Washington office reports.


    The White House reiterates that Russian intervention in Ukraine would be a "grave mistake", Reuters reports.

    Pixie, Sligo, West Ireland

    emails: I am from Sevastapol working in Ireland. My family are still at home. Best that can happen now is that President Putin moves fast to crush the mob-rule "illegitimate so-called government" in Kiev and restore our President Yanukovych to power. And to protect the Black Sea Fleet, Crimea should now go back to being part of Russia.


    US lawmakers say they are writing legislation to authorise financial and technical assistance for Ukraine, Reuters reports. Details of the package are still being hammered out, it says, but Chairman of the Senate subcommittee on European Affairs Senator Chris Murphy said the package would be part of "a broader, co-ordinated programme" with the EU, IMF and other international partners.


    At least five Russian Il-76 planes have landed at a military airport in Gvardiysky, near Simferopol, Ukrainska Pravda internet newspaper reports citing eyewitnesses. Reports also say a column of Russian armoured personnel carriers is heading towards Simferopol.


    Ukraine International Airline, Ukraine's biggest airline, says that airspace over the Crimea region had been closed after its main airport was taken over by armed men, Interfax reported. It says that no flights from Kiev are being allowed to Simferopol international airport. But an airport information official said only one flight from Kiev had been delayed, and other flights had been coming and going from Simferopol without any problems.


    Telephone hubs in Crimea have been blocked, Ukraine's Channel 5 TV reports. An official from the company that owns the Ukrainian telecom monopoly Ukrtelekom is also reported to have told Ukrainska Pravda the firm is unable to get in touch with its Crimean branch. (BBC Monitoring).

    Owen, Doncaster

    emails: I am a 3rd generation Uki with antecedents in the Ternopilska Oblast. My family fought and died to push Russian tyrants out of Ukraine, why hasn't Kiev deployed forces to rid the Crimea of these criminals??? #euromaidan


    There is a growing mistrust of Russian intentions in Ukraine which has spawned calls in certain circles for America to stand up to Russia and deter it from seeking a "soft partition of Ukraine", the BBC's David Willis in Los Angeles reports.


    Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko tells the BBC Russia is deliberately escalating tensions in Crimea. "It's done specifically to spread the conflict," he said. "I don't understand the position of some people who are playing in favour of heating up this stand-off. And we have a lot of information today that Russian Federation troops participated in it, and I'm certain that we need to approach the Russian Federation, asking [them] not to interfere."


    Ukraine's prosecutor-general's office announces that it has started extradition proceedings against former President Viktor Yanukovych, Ukrainian's Unian news agency reports. (BBC Monitoring)


    Russian President Vladimir Putin of Russia calls for a "rapid return to normality" in Ukraine and warns against any further unrest in telephone calls with key EU leaders, Reuters news agency quotes the Kremlin as saying.


    The EU's offer of free trade pact with Ukraine still stands and Brussels is ready to sign it, EU Trade chief Karel De Guch is quoted by Reuters as saying.

    18:53: Breaking News

    Ukraine has now officially asked Russia to extradite former President Viktor Yanukovych, Prosecutor General Oleh Makhnitsky says.


    US Secretary of State John Kerry says he is still trying to assess whether Russia's actions in relation to Ukraine constitute a "crossing of the line" in the crisis, the BBC David Willis in Los Angeles reports.


    The BBC Russian's Oleg Boldyrev is now at Gvardeysky, the military airport near Simferopol. He says can't neither see nor hear any movement there. Earlier reports (see 18:07 entry) suggested at least five Russian Il-76 planes landed there.


    Ukraine's foreign ministry has lodged an official protest to Russia about the "violation of Ukrainian airspace and non-compliance" with the bilateral agreement about the status of the Black Sea Fleet on Ukraine's territory.


    The protest note by Kiev did not specify any of the alleged infringements by the Russian side. Earlier reports suggested that at least five Russian planes landed near Simferopol.


    tweets: Flights are avoiding the closed airspace over #Simferopol #Crimea #Ukraine


    Ukrainian scholars have appealed to the international scholarly community to join an international campaign to help safeguard Ukraine's territorial unity.

    State owned @VoiceofRussia radio service

    tweets: Big question is whether new rulers that will emerge from elections in #Ukraine actually competent enough


    The UN Security Council will hold a "private meeting" at 2000 GMT in New York, followed by discussions on the rapidly changing situation in Ukraine, a spokesman cited by AFP says.

    Andrey from Moscow

    emails: There was a coup in Ukraine. The new Ukrainian government is against the law. Viktor Yanukovych is not a good president but it is necessary to re-appoint him to re-instate the law.

    19:51: Breaking News

    Ukraine's interim President Oleksandr Turchynov accuses Russia of aggression, saying Moscow has deployed troops in Crimea and is "trying to provoke" Kiev into an "armed conflict".


    In a televised address, Mr Turchynov said Moscow was trying to play out an "Abkhazian" plan, waiting for the Ukrainian side to react to provocations so that Moscow could annex Crimea.


    Mr Turchynov called on Russian President Putin to "stop provocations", start negotiations and immediately "pull out" Russian troops.


    Ukraine's acting leader also said that the "Ukrainian army is not responding" to the provocations in Crimea.


    In his speech, Mr Turchynov referred to the "Abkhazia" plan. By this he apparently meant that Russia was behaving as it did during the 2008 war with Georgia, which ended with Moscow wrestling control of two Georgian breakaway republics - Abkhazia and South Ossetia - out of Tbilisi's hands.


    Russian aircraft carrying nearly 2,000 suspected troops have landed at a military air base near Simferopo, senior Ukrainian official Sergiy Kunitsyn is reported by the AFP to have told Crimea's ATR television channel. Mr Kunitsyn says 13 Russian planes have landed with 150 people in each one.


    Russia has so far made no public comments on Ukraine's accusations.


    Ukraine International Airlines says it has cancelled flights to and from Simferopol, the regional capital of Crimea, because of the closure of the airspace over the peninsula, AP reports.


    More from interim President Turchynov: "I personally appeal to President Putin to immediately stop military provocation and to withdraw from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea... It's a naked aggression against Ukraine," he was reported by AFP to have told reporters.


    Any peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis must involve Russia to allay concerns that the two nations could descend into open warfare, European Commissioner for Industry and Entrepreneurship Antonio Tajani is reported by Reuters to have said.


    Meanwhile, armed men are operating at checkpoints on the main roads connecting Crimea to mainland Ukraine. In this photo, masked men who say that they are members of Ukraine's disbanded Berkut riot police force man a barricade near the northern Crimean city of Armyansk.

    Masked men calling themselves Berkut police man a checkpoint near Armyansk, northern Crimea
    @ianbremmer Political scientist

    tweets: The Russians already have Crimea. It's just a question of when and how they intend to formalize. #Ukraine


    More from interim President Turchynov's televised address: "We are sure that Ukraine will keep its territory, Ukraine will defend its independence, and any attempts of annexation or invasion will have very grave consequences."


    British Foreign Secretary William Hague says that he will travel to Ukraine at the weekend to hold talks with the new leadership, after Prime Minister David Cameron told Russia to respect the volatile nation's territorial integrity, Reuters reports.


    "For the European Commission the situation in Crimea requires first and foremost a political solution," Commission spokesman Olivier Bailly tells the BBC. "We call for a dialogue between the different parts of the Ukrainian people, the different political parties. We call for everybody to respect one another. That holds even more true in the current situation."


    More from President Turchynov's televised address: "Ukrainian servicemen are performing their duties, but not succumbing to provocations, are not engaging in a military conflict as they understand the high danger that the civilian population of Crimea faces."


    Oleg Boldyrev from the BBC Russian Service is now at Gvardeysky, the military airport near Simferopol in Crimea, and says all is quiet there.


    The head of police in Sevastopol, Gen Vitaliy Malikov, has resigned according to the ATR television channel. (BBC Monitoring)


    Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin arrives for a Security Council meeting about the Ukraine crisis at UN headquarters in New York.

    Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churki

    Visitors to the website can browse through what appear to be the expense payments for running the sprawling compound of the former president's home just outside Kiev, AP reports.


    Ukraine's UN Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev says "we are strong enough to defend ourselves", Reuters reports.


    The assets of up to 20 Ukrainians, including those of President Yanukovich and his son, have been frozen by Switzerland, Austria and Liechtenstein, Reuters reports. The former president on Friday said that talk of foreign bank accounts was "empty chatter".


    The tense situation in the Crimean peninsula "must normalise soon", intermin President Turchynov said in his televised address. "I want to reassure the civilians of the autonomous republic who do not back separatist calls by provocateurs and recruited agents," he said.


    Hooded men who say that they are members of a local militia search a vehicle at their checkpoint on a highway that connects the Crimean peninsula to mainland Ukraine near the city of Armyansk.

    Hooded men who call themselves members of local militia search a vehicle at their checkpoint on a highway that connect the Crimean peninsula to mainland Ukraine near the city of Armyansk
    21:26: Tolga İLKİ, Istanbul

    tweets: Difference between Obama & Putin: Obama issues warnings and then doesn't act. Putin doesn't talk, he just acts. #Ukraine #Crimea


    Global banking association the International Institute of Finance (IIF) warns that even if Ukraine slashes fuel subsidies and undertakes other reforms, it still requires $20bn in foreign assistance over this year and next to service its debt and cover a large fiscal deficit, AFP reports. IIF economist Lubomir Mitov told the news agency that the government needs an injection of cash just to keep afloat." They need to get some money just to allow the budget to operate," he said. But getting quick bilateral support will be a challenge, he says, because the EU and US in particular "are very reluctant to give a blank check to Ukraine".


    Ukraine's UN Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev tells the UN Security Council that Russian military helicopters and transport planes are "entering" his country and Russian armed forces have seized Crimea's main airport, AP reports.


    President Obama is to make a statement on Ukraine at the White House, AP reports.


    "We asked the [UN] Security Council to consider the situation in Ukraine as seriously as it is, and to undertake the appropriate measures to assist us to stop... the dangerous developments which are challenging international peace and challenging our territorial integrity," Ukraine's UN Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev tells journalists after briefing the Council.


    President Obama's statement on Ukraine will take place at 4.45 pm (2145 GMT), the White House says.


    The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, urges Russia to "pull back" from Crimea and demands urgent international mediation on Ukraine's autonomous region.


    Ukrainian prosecutors say they "fully expect to receive a positive answer shortly" from the Russian prosecutor-general's office in relation to former President Yanukovych's extradition.


    Russian President Putin's "Abkhaz scenario" for Crimea has failed, Ukraine's MP Mykola Kniazhytsky says. "Had there been any casualties among Russians in uniforms without insignia, Putin would have said they were pro-Russian activists and that would have been pretext to deploy troops," he says. "But what we're seeing now is a Russian aggression without any reason, which has annoyed the West. This could be the beginning of the end of Putin."


    Russian Deputy PM Dmitriy Rogozin says the functioning of the Russia-Ukraine high-level "industry group has been suspended until the formation in Kiev of a legitimate government", Interfax news agency reports.


    The S&P 500 index in New York ended at another record close on Friday but well off the day's highs as worries about tensions in Ukraine caused investors to take profits ahead of the weekend, Reuters reports. "There's chatter about Russia's (involvement) in the Ukraine, and that's getting people all jittery," it quotes Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, as saying.

    22:09: Breaking News

    US President Barack Obama warns Russia that "there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine".


    In a short statement, Mr Obama also says the Americans "commend the Ukrainian government's restraint" in a very fluid situation.

    22:14: Daniel Sandford BBC News, Simferopol

    says Crimea's airspace remains closed and there are no signs of any flights arriving. He adds: "Ukraine doesn't seem to have any control" of the situation in Crimea.


    More on President Obama's statement on Ukraine. He says that the US stands for the the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in addition to its democratic future.


    Any Russian military movements in Crimea are "within the framework" of Moscow's agreement with Kiev on the deployment of military units in Ukraine, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin is quoted as saying by Reuters.

    Oleg Vorobiov, a native Russian in Simferopol, Crimea

    I am a translator and live in the centre of Simferopol. I have been to the airport twice today interpreting for Swedish journalists. I saw for myself there was a military presence. They were calling themselves the Ukrainian self-defence forces but they were very professional and very heavily armed so I think they must be backed by Russia somehow. I am Russian and I fear this could turn into another Abkhazia scenario. I oppose Crimea being part of Ukraine. For years we have been told how we have to prepare for hard economic times, but the politicians have done nothing to help us. I don't trust any Ukrainian politicians or parties. I don't want Russia to intervene either, I want Crimea to be independent.


    Meanwhile, a CCTV video has emerged how a group of heavily armed seized Crimea's parliament and government buildings on Thursday. Here's a still from the video posted online.

    Armed men inside Crimea's parliament in Simferopol on 27 February 2014

    Ukraine's defence ministry says it has information of unknown "radical forces" planning operations against its military units in Crimea early on Saturday morning, Reuters reports.


    More on the statement by Ukraine's defence ministry that unknown "radical forces" are planning operations on Saturday. "In the case of such unknown actions, the Ukrainian armed forces will act in accordance with the laws of Ukraine and the regulations of the Ukrainian armed forces," the ministry said in a statement on its website.


    Crimea's Supreme Council (parliament) has set up a "Berkut special-purpose detachment" for guarding public order, which "will be subordinated exclusively to the republican authorities", Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temyrgaliyev is quoted by Unian as saying. Bekrut personnel are blamed for shooting protesters during the dying days of former President Yanukovych's regime.


    More comments by the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, on Ukraine: "(Ukraine's) new government needs to continue its outreach to minority groups in order to help calm the situation and affirm its commitment to protecting minority rights," she said. "Clearly this is a message that needs especially to be heard in the Crimea."

    Adin of Crimea, Writer @RealCrimea

    tweets: #Russia in its heart and soul believes that #Crimea is #Russia. So they don't feel they're disrespecting #Ukraine boundaries. All in the interpretation!


    In his statement on Ukraine, President Obama says the events of the last three months have shown how difficult democracy can be in "difficult conditions".

    President Obama makes a statement on Ukraine

    Britain's ambassador to the UN, Lyall Grant, says that at a Security Council meeting on Ukraine he expressed "deep concern at the recent developments in Crimea and particularly reports of Russian troop deployment".


    US Republican Senator John McCain tells CNN that President Obama "has been very naive... as far as President Putin is concerned". The senator adds that the Kremlin leader is "committed to the restoration of greater Russia".


    Ukraine's health ministry says in a statement that 88 people have died since the unrest erupted on 30 November 2013.


    Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of state assets believed to have been owned or used by the ousted Ukrainian President Yanukovych and his circle, including his now notorious country mansion, are alleged to have been funnelled through London front companies, the Independent's Saturday edition says.


    President Obama could skip June's G8 summit in Sochi if Russian forces are involved in Ukraine, a senior US official tells the AFP news agency.

    Boris Lutskovsky @the_boris from Portland

    tweets: #Russia holds its hand in front of #Ukraine's face & says "I'm not touching you". Citizens of Russia are silent.

    Peter Baker, White House correspondent for the New York Times

    tweets: Looks like Putin has just tossed away 7 years and $50 billion worth of public relations intended to polish Russia's image around the world.


    This brings to an end our coverage of the fast-developing crisis in Ukraine. Thanks for staying with us! But you still can get all the latest updates on this and other stories on the BBC News website.


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