As it happened: Ukraine crisis - grip tightens

Key Points

  • Russian military gives Ukrainian forces in Crimea until 03:00 GMT on Tuesday to surrender or face assault, Ukrainian officials say
  • Russian navy spokesman reportedly denies an ultimatum has been issued
  • EU foreign ministers condemn Russian "aggression" in Crimea and demand troops surrounding Ukrainian bases in Crimea withdraw
  • Ukraine's interim PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk says any attempt to seize Crimea will fail
  • Russian stock prices fall and rouble hits new low against dollar
  • All times GMT

    Welcome to our coverage of events in Ukraine, where the army is on full combat alert amid fresh diplomatic efforts to avert further escalation of the crisis.


    Russian stock markets opened down at least 6% and the rouble plunged to historic new lows as investors panicked over the Kremlin's plan for military intervention in Ukraine, AFP reports.


    Russia's central bank also raised its main interest rate to 7% from 5.5%.

    Kevin Bishop BBC News, Sevastopol

    tweets: Crisis will soon be about more than troops on the ground.

    Irina, in Kiev, Ukraine,

    emails: I don't need any protection from Putin! Stop Putin! Stop war!

    Kevin Bishop BBC News, Sevastopol

    tweets: Minesweeper Turbinist from Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol harbour this morning - #Crimea

    Minesweeper Turbinist from Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol harbour this morning
    Inna, in Czech Republic,

    emails: I'm Ukrainian and I fully support Russia in Crimea. I'm against bandits who occupied Kiev. Ukraine should be split into east and west, they have never been united.


    UK Foreign Secretary William Hague is in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, and has just visited some of the barricades leading into Maidan, the city's main square. He didn't take any questions.

    Sarah Rainsford BBC News, Kiev

    says across Ukraine men have been receiving call-up papers and will start reporting for 10 days' training from Monday. There is widespread anger at Russia's actions - and many Ukrainians say they are prepared to fight, to defend their territory.


    Russia and China are in broad agreement on Ukraine, says the Russian foreign ministry, as reported by AFP.

    BBC's Daniel Sandford

    tweets: Amazing weather in Sevastopol this morning


    Ukrainian border guards have reported a build-up of armoured vehicles on the Russian side of a narrow sea channel, the Kerch Channel, dividing Russia and the Ukrainian region of Crimea, Reuters reports.

    Steve Rosenberg BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: Russia's foreign min. discussed Ukraine with Chinese FM, claims "broad convergence of views". Diplo speak for we didn't agree on everything?

    Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, stand guard outside the territory of a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol Military personnel, believed to be Russian servicemen, stand guard outside a Ukrainian military unit in the village of Perevalnoye outside Simferopol

    Russia says the US has barred Russian veterinary officials who had been due to attend talks in Washington and calls it sabotage, Reuters reports.

    Finance Journalist Yuri Bender

    tweets: Half dozen UK diplomatic types on morning flight to #Kyiv #Ukraine

    Steve Rosenberg BBC News, Moscow

    says many of the Russian tabloids are packed with patriotic fervour and pro-Kremlin columns. One of the country's most popular papers, Komsomolskaya Pravda, claimed that Vladimir Putin was "one step away from becoming the leader of the world, the chief figure embodying independence from American hegemony".

    Steve Rosenberg BBC News, Moscow

    adds the respected Russian business daily Vedomosti warns an escalation of the conflict in Crimea and Ukraine would "put the brakes on the Russian economy". It accuses the Russian government of "provoking war".


    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on Monday, says the UN, according to AFP.

    Roland Oliphant, Telegraph, Moscow,

    tweets: Standoff continues at Perevalnoye. Ukrainians still refusing to give up their guns, Russians not have (yet) tried to take them by force

    Mark Lowen BBC News, Sevastopol

    reports that two large Ukrainian military bases there are surrounded, with Russian troops standing alongside local self-defence groups, who demand that the Ukrainian soldiers inside defect from Kiev to Crimea's new pro-Russia government.

    Mark Lowen BBC News, Sevastopol

    adds: "Ukrainian border guards say Moscow is blocking telephone networks in some areas. Thousands of newly arrived Russian elite troops far outnumber Ukraine's military presence here. And Crimea has in effect been cut off by roadblocks, where vehicles are being denied access to the peninsula."

    Doug, in Odessa, Ukraine,

    emails: I'm a British National currently in Odessa studying Russian. Everyone around here realises that Russia is now consistently increasing hostility. General consensus now is to leave Odessa before things get worse.


    UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is in Kiev, says Russia has taken operational control of Ukraine's Crimea region and that its intervention has created a very tense and dangerous situation, Reuters reports.


    Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Mr Hague said it was the "biggest crisis in Europe of the 21st Century", adding: "This is not an acceptable way to conduct international relations, there will be significant costs to that."

    Abid, in London,

    emails: I often go to Ukraine and Russia, I was in Kiev in January and went to Simferopol too. The difference in attitudes is remarkable. There are pro-western sentiments in western Ukraine and pro-Russian in Simferopol. Public debate in parliament is only way forward, not by ruthless demonstrations or military intervention.

    Kevin Bishop BBC News, Sevastopol

    tweets: Kerch #Crimea from where reports are coming in that border guards can see a build up of Russian armoured vehicles.

    Jake, Moscow, Russia,

    emails: It is amazing that Russia still thinks it has authority over Ukraine. This country and government needs to accept that Ukraine is no longer part of the USSR, they are independent, and clearly see their path is one of a brighter future without Russia's oppression.


    An independent MP who has been at the forefront of the anti-government protests, Lesya Orobets, has told the BBC Ukraine needs the help of the international community: "We ask the civilised world to provide us with leadership, with their leadership to stop the aggressor because [by] pardoning and excusing the aggression, you can have a huge problem next, huge destabilisation of the whole region. This is not the Ukrainian issue anymore. This is somewhere on the border with the EU and Nato."

    Alyona, in Kiev, Ukraine,

    emails: The soldiers in Crimean military bases feel lost and deserted. They are ready to fight back, but have no order. Putin doesn't want Crimea (he cannot afford another long-lasting war). He needs control over Ukraine to keep Nato away from the borders of Russia. He'll fight for it. They say he'll agree to federalisation.


    The US is asking for monitors from international security body OSCE to be sent to Ukraine "immediately", AFP reports.


    Ex-Liberal Democrat leader and special forces veteran Lord Paddy Ashdown has told the BBC Russia may win control of Crimea, but the consequences will be severe: "This is a very stupid move on the part of the Russians. They will win in the short term in Crimea - let's hope they don't try and expand this into eastern Ukraine - but in the long term, if the West acts together and if it uses diplomacy, but muscular diplomacy, and uses the financial and diplomatic instruments at its leverage, there will be a heavy price to pay for what Russia has done."


    UK Prime Minister David Cameron is to chair a meeting of the National Security Council in response to the unfolding "grave situation" in Ukraine.

    Max, in Kharkov, Ukraine,

    emails: My reaction on the occupation of Crimea and Russia's "help" to our region is very negative. I think it is just a pretext to take control of our country. I have many friends in the neighbouring Russian city of Belgorod, will I have to fight them?

    Steve Rosenberg BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: Crimea consequences so far back in Russia: Patriotic anti-western rhetoric UP; currency/financial markets DOWN.

    A woman wearing a Ukrainian flag stands at a memorial for people killed in clashes with the police at Kiev's Independence Square A woman wearing a Ukrainian flag stands at a memorial for people killed in clashes with the police in Kiev's Independence Square

    More on those OSCE observers mentioned earlier: Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter, whose country holds the rotating chairmanship of the organisation, says an observer mission would investigate "incidents" in Ukraine, AFP reports.

    Bethany Bell BBC News, Vienna

    says the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which includes the United States, Russia, Ukraine and Western and Central European countries, is holding a special meeting on Ukraine. This means the main parties to the Ukrainian crisis will be sitting at the same table together.

    Bethany Bell BBC News, Vienna

    adds: In recent days, the US, Germany and France have suggested the OSCE could play a role in helping to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine. On Sunday, the US ambassador to the OSCE, Daniel Baer, called for OSCE observers to be sent immediately to Ukraine.


    Russian soldiers accompanied by Denys Berezovsky (who was sacked as Ukraine's navy chief after pledging allegiance to pro-Russian Crimea on Sunday) briefly entered the Ukrainian navy headquarters in Simferopol, Interfax-Ukraine says, as seen by BBC Monitoring.


    But "practically unarmed" Ukrainian officers forced them out of the building after refusing to switch allegiance, Interfax-Ukraine says, quoting a source at the Ukrainian navy headquarters.

    Roger, in Kharkov, Ukraine,

    emails: I am an American living in the second largest city in Ukraine. No-one knows who is in charge. There is confusion and disinformation everywhere. People do not support the government in Kiev here and most people would welcome Russian troops.

    Anna, from Surrey, UK,

    emails: I am from the South of Ukraine. I didn't ask for any protection from Putin! I don't need him on my territory, near my family home, I don't need his troops!


    Russia's state gas producer Gazprom has warned Ukraine that it may increase the gas price for Kiev after the first quarter, Reuters reports. "The situation with payments is worrying. Ukraine is paying but not as well as we would like it to... We are still thinking about whether to extend the pricing contract into the next quarter based on current prices," said Andrei Kruglov, Gazprom's chief financial officer.


    A pro-Russian crowd outside the Donetsk city administration building, in eastern Ukraine, rejects the Kiev authorities and urges local officials to ignore Kiev's appointment of a new Donetsk governor, Serhiy Taruta, Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reports.

    Paul Wood BBC News, Kharkiv

    says that, according to the Russian border service, some 675,000 refugees have gone into Russia - but this may be exaggerated, as are reports of queues at the border. There was a big pro-Russian demonstration there at the weekend - but many Russian speakers are pro-Maidan too.


    The Ukrainian interior ministry has posted a "wanted" notice for toppled President Viktor Yanukovych on its website, in which Mr Yanukovych is classed as "a person hiding from pre-trial investigation agencies".


    Speaking in Geneva, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov calls on Western partners to put aside geopolitical calculations and think first about the Ukrainian people, Reuters reports.

    John, in Sydney, Australia,

    emails: The Paralympics should be cancelled immediately. It is inconceivable that the games should go ahead when the host nation has just invaded another country. Shades of the Munich Olympics in 1936?


    Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has said Moscow will decide by the end of the day on financial aid to Ukraine's Crimea region, he told a meeting between Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and his deputies. The minister did not name a concrete amount of the aid.


    Still speaking in Geneva, Mr Lavrov says "radicals" control some of Ukraine's towns, AP reports.

    Richard Galpin BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: Ex #Russia MP Sergei Markov tells BBC #Putin does not want military invasion of #Ukraine but wants human rights 4 Russian speaking people guaranteed in constitution. Markov says shd b new elections. Calls current govt in #Kiev a "junta"


    The authorities in several Russian regions - Orenburg, Kaluga and Nizhny Novgorod - appeal to their citizens to pay into a humanitarian aid fund to ease hardship in Crimea and other Ukrainian regions, Russian media report.

    Jon Williams, ABC's foreign editor,

    tweets: Putin spent $50 billion advertising new #Russia at Sochi, #Ukraine means gone right back to old Russia @McFaul tells #r4today

    Daniel Sandford BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: The new head of the Ukrainian navy Rear Admiral Sergei Gaiduk tells the BBC he is loyal to Kiev and Oleksandr Turchynov

    Kevin Bishop BBC News, Sevastopol

    tweets: Ukraine Navy HQ in Sevastopol. Russian guards - inside 2 opposing Admirals try to convince troops to side with them

     Ukraine Navy HQ in Sevastopol

    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk says Ukraine will never give up Crimea to anyone, he is quoted as saying by Interfax.

    Imogen Foulkes BBC News, Geneva

    says Mr Lavrov departed from a prepared speech marking Russia's re-election to the UN Human Rights Council, to defend Russia's actions in Ukraine. He suggested ultra-nationalist extremists with anti-Semitic tendencies were responsible for many of the problems, and said Russia had intervened because of threats to the lives of Russian citizens in Ukraine. He indicated that the presence of Russian troops would be necessary until the situation had normalised.

    Imogen Foulkes BBC News, Geneva

    adds Mr Lavrov's remarks were in stark contrast to the prepared speech (and the only part which was distributed to Western journalists) in which he said that "military interventions on the pretext of civilian protection produce the opposite effect" adding that "all internal crises should be overcome without external interference, through dialogue".


    German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman says it is not too late to resolve the Ukraine crisis by political means, and that the Ukraine prime minister assured her in a phone call he would respect the rights of the Russian-speaking majority in Crimea, Reuters reports.

    Bethany Bell BBC News, Vienna

    reports the Personal Envoy of the Swiss OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Ukraine, Ambassador Tim Guldimann, says a contact group "is in the making" and that the OSCE is developing plans for a possible international monitoring mission to Ukraine. Such plans would need to be decided on by the OSCE's permanent council, of which Russia is part.


    Russia's upper house - the Federation Council - asks President Vladimir Putin to recall Russia's ambassador to Washington, because of US President Barack Obama's speech on Ukraine on Friday, Itar-Tass news agency reports. President Obama warned that "there will be costs" for any military intervention in Ukraine.


    Armed men in military fatigues without insignia are blocking the Ukrainian navy's operational provisioning centre in Bakhchysaray and the naval intelligence centre on Cape Fiolent in Sevastopol, Ukrainian news agency UNIAN reports, as seen by BBC Monitoring. It says the Ukrainian servicemen are refusing to surrender.

    Nat, in the UK,

    emails: Why is everyone saying that the new government in Ukraine is democracy? Why is everyone supporting them straight away including the foreign community? Since when do normal people have time to riot for weeks?

    Selwyn, in Cardiff,

    texts: The UK and the West should stop posturing and respect that the people of the Crimea don't want to integrate with the EU. At least they've made a decision, where we in the "free West" aren't allowed to!


    The Russian central bank has sold up to $10bn (£6bn) of foreign currency reserves in order to support the plunging rouble, Reuters reports, quoting foreign exchange dealers. The central bank says the reserves stood at $493.4bn in late February.

    Scott, in Belfast,

    texts: Ukraine has shown massive restraint, it is to be applauded. Unlike Russia who are acting like the bully they are.


    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk tells a news conference in Kiev: "Nobody is going to give Crimea away to anybody... Russia had no grounds, and will never have grounds, for using force against Ukrainians and peaceful citizens, or for sending in a Russian military contingent," Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports, as seen by BBC Monitoring.

    Alex, in Chisinau, Moldova,

    emails: History repeats itself. First was the breakaway Prednestrovia in Moldova and Russia sent their troops in. Then it was Ossetia and now Crimea. I speak Russian but they fought against my people in 1991. They need to be stopped.


    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Geneva says it is of utmost importance to restore calm through dialogue in Ukraine, that he will urge Mr Lavrov to engage with Ukraine constructively and through peaceful means, Reuters reports.

    Mark Lowen BBC News, Sevastopol

    tells the BBC World Service's World Update programme: "The concern for Kiev is that if Crimea is finally lost, if it is annexed by Moscow or indeed when they hold an independent referendum as is planned in a month, could this spread to eastern Ukraine proper, to cities like Donetsk and Kharkiv, where there have been large pro-Russia demonstrations? Will the Russian groups there look to Crimea and say, 'Well, if they can do it, so can we'?"

    Jonathan Marcus BBC diplomatic correspondent

    says that on paper at least the Ukrainian military looks credible, though it is numerically inferior to the Russian armed forces - Moscow having about four times as many active troops and twice as many tanks as Kiev. But in reality Ukraine's military is dispersed; lacks readiness; and much of its equipment is in storage. Russia in contrast has been exercising some 150,000 troops in military districts bordering eastern Ukraine.

    Richard Galpin BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: Top #Russia analyst Dmitri Trenin on BBC: "I wd rate this as most dangerous moment since end of Cold War in Europe." #ukraine


    Andrew Wilson at the European Council on Foreign Relations, a leading think-tank, has published a quick guide called Ten things you should know about Crimea. He notes that the proposed pro-Russian referendum in Crimea "is against the Ukrainian constitution" and the new local leader, Sergiy Aksyonov, won only 4% at the last elections in Crimea.

    Demonstrators gather outside the Russian Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, to protest against Russian intervention in Ukraine Demonstrators protest outside the Russian embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania, against Russia's intervention in Ukraine
    Ravi, in Kiev, Ukraine,

    emails: I have many friends in Crimea and other parts of the Ukraine. There is a lot of Russian propaganda saying that the lives of Russians are at risk in Crimea and the Ukraine, which is false. Ukrainians are very friendly people and all this talk about them being radicals is not true.

    Mark Lowen BBC News, Sevastopol

    tweets: A devotee of Tsar Nicholas outside the #Sevastopol naval headquarters as the blockade continues #Crimea #Ukraine

    A devotee of Tsar Nicholas outside the Sevastopol naval headquarters as the blockade continues

    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has condemned Russia's actions as unacceptable: "The Russians consider that countries which belonged to their empire at one point or another should not be outside a certain amount of their control. In the Crimea case, they already have a base in Sevastopol and considering what happened in Ukraine - the overthrow, or at least the departure of Yanukovych - they want to get their hands back on Crimea. Obviously, as far as international law is concerned, it is unacceptable," he told French radio.


    The Ukrainian State Border Service says two Russian assault landing ships arrived illegally in the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, on Sunday. It named the ships as the Olenegorskiy Gornyak from the Northern Fleet and the Georgy Pobedonosets of the Baltic Fleet. Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol.


    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calls on Russia to avoid actions that might worsen the situation in Ukraine, AFP reports from Geneva. "I urge the Russian Federation to refrain from any acts and rhetoric that could further escalate the situation," Mr Ban says ahead of a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.


    More from Imogen Foulkes in Geneva on Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov's appearance before the UN human rights council. "Half way through his speech... his tone changed dramatically - he mounted a robust defence of Russia's policy in Ukraine, which, he insisted, was all about protecting civilians... " He also warned the West against economic sanctions - saying those who proposed them were the same countries who had already polarised Ukrainian society."

    12:43: Igor, in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine

    I consider the recent Russian military intervention into Ukraine, which is made under a false pretext, as a grave mistake on the part of the Russian government, which will eventually lead to a change in Russia's leadership. I was born in Russia, speak Russian, but have never experienced any discrimination in terms of the language or otherwise. Nor do I know any other Russian speaking people from among my friends, colleagues, etc being discriminated against on the above grounds.

    Evgeny Khalak, in Moscow, Russia

    I'm a Russian citizen and I would like to apologize to Ukrainian people for what our President is doing now. None of my friends here in Russia support him with that. I'm sure that even Russian soldiers are not delighted to be there, they just follow the orders. Yesterday's rally in Moscow was a fiction. People were either being paid or threatened.


    At least 100 demonstrators waving Russian flags have stormed into the regional administration building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, and occupied at least one floor of the building. Itar-Tass news agency says there are no police on the scene. The 11-storey building has been flying the Russian flag, rather than the Ukrainian flag, for three days, Reuters reports.


    Ukraine's acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk stresses to the BBC that his country has no intention of relinquishing Crimea. He says Crimea "is the territory of Ukraine and despite the presence of Russian military, despite the fact that Russian military supports an illegal government, we will tackle this problem. And any attempt of Russia to grab Crimea will have no success at all. Give us some time."

    13:01: BBC News website reader in the Ukraine

    I talked to a friend who lives in Simferopol. I asked her what does she think of the Crimea becoming part of Russia. She responded that she hopes to become Russian soon. I asked her why? She believes that under the current government they have no future, and to be part of Russia, she would be much better off.


    More on the protests in Donetsk: A Reuters reporter in a press centre on the fourth floor of the building said the protesters had seized the first floor but were unable to go higher because lifts were disabled and stairwell doors shut.

    Alex, in Kiev, Ukraine

    I'm from Kiev. I always loved Russia. I have many friends and relatives in Russia. My parents are from Russia. So I always considered this country as a best friend. But this was until last week. Putin is out of his mind!


    Moscow's stock markets have recorded sharp losses as investors take fright over the consequences of Russian military action in Ukraine, AFP reports. At around 1230 GMT, the MICEX stock market was trading down 11.94% while the other main securities index, the RTS, slumped 13.50%.

    Rear Admiral Sergei Gaiduk  with the BBC's Daniel Sandford New Ukrainian navy head Sergei Gaiduk tells the BBC's Daniel Sandford he is loyal to Kiev and supports acting President Turchynov

    UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has said the whole world supports Ukraine and will not leave it on its own, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports him as saying in Kiev. "What is taking place in Crimea now is a violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We will be taking decisive steps in order to stop this. The world will not abandon Ukraine," Mr Hague is quoted as saying.


    Keir Giles of the Chatham House think-tank in London writes that Russia's swift military intervention in Crimea is a "fait accompli" reminiscent of its thrust into Georgia in 2008, leaving the West with few effective options.


    Recent statements by US Secretary of State John Kerry about Ukraine contain threats against Moscow and are "unacceptable", Russian foreign ministry says.


    The Russian rouble has fallen to "an all-time low against both the dollar and the euro" amid the latest developments in Ukraine, the Gazprom-owned Russian channel NTV reports. For more details read our story here.


    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says: "Russian troops will not be allowed into [Ukraine's] eastern regions," Interfax-Ukraine reports. He was speaking while meeting businesspeople in Kiev. (BBC Monitoring)


    More from the Russian foreign ministry statement. It says that the G7 decision to suspend preparatory work on the G8 summit in Sochi "has no grounds".

    Matthew Ansell in Frinton-on-sea, Essex

    emails: Putin may keep the Crimean Peninsula, but by alienating Ukraine has he invited the EU and Nato onto Russia's doorstep?

    Orysia Lutsevych

    Executive Director of Open Ukraine Foundation (2007-2009) tweets: #Lavrov says he is giving lesson to radicals in Ukraine. De facto he is uniting east and west together against Russian aggression.


    US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, says: "We are using all of our channels of dialogue to make the case to Russia that it doesn't have to be this way, that it should make a 21st century choice to settle its issues politically and through negotiation, not with military force."


    UK Minister of State at the Foreign Office, Hugo Swire, tells the BBC: "We must engage with Russia. It's no good this rhetoric, we need to engage and work our way through this very, very tense situation."


    The market capitalisation of Moscow's main MICEX stock index has fallen $58.4bn (£35.2bn) since Friday - more than the $51bn (£30.5bn) Russia spent on preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Reuters news agency reports.

    14:41: Daniel Sandford BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: Balaklava peaceful today

    Image of Balaklava bay
    14:41: Daniel Sandford BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: But in Bakhchiserai another Russian siege of a Crimean base

    Image of Russian troops in Bakhchiserai

    The European Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee is currently taking evidence from Boris Tarasyuk, Ukraine's special envoy on Crimea. You can watch the hearing live here.


    As the tense standoff in Crimea continues, the BBC's Jonathan Marcus has been looking at how the Ukrainian army measures up against Russia's. You can read his analysis here.

    14:53: Tony Ball in Warrington, UK

    emails: Russia should respect Ukraine's integrity and withdraw now, but I must say hearing Kerry saying that you can't walk in to another sovereign state and impose change because you don't like it there smacks of pots and kettles.


    Russia's Black Sea Fleet has given Ukrainian forces in Crimea until 5:00 local time (03:00 GMT) on Tuesday to surrender or face an all-out assault, according to Ukrainian defence ministry sources quoted by Interfax-Ukraine news agency. "If by 5am tomorrow morning they do not surrender a real assault will begin on units and sections of the Ukrainian armed forces all over Crimea," defence ministry officials are quoted as saying. So far there is no further confirmation of the ultimatum from other sources.

    Josh Taylor in London

    emails: Ultimately what can the EU or Nato do apart from condemn Putin's actions on a political stage. The EU is too dependent on Russian gas reserves to risk ostracize Moscow.

    Sarah Rainsford BBC News, Kiev

    tweets: I'm told there are now 95 casualties from the Feb violence here in Kiev: another man in his 20s has died in hospital from gunshot wounds.


    Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev has discussed the situation in Ukraine in a phone conversation with US Vice-President Joe Biden, the Russian government's press service says, quoted by Interfax.


    International security expert Ian Brzezinski says a deployment of Nato's rapid response force is among four options Nato should consider in order to bolster Ukrainian security, in this piece for the alliance's governing body, the North Atlantic Council. Such a deployment could include sending Nato ships to the Black Sea.


    In this image, received by BBC television, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives at Kirillovsky airfield in western Russia to watch military exercises taking place there.

    Russian president Vladimir Putin has arrived at Kirillovsky air ground to watch the final stage of military exercises of Western and Central Army district.
    BBC's Norman Smith

    tweets: Jack Straw warns of risk of West acting like "a paper tiger" over #Ukraine cos of pressure "to do something" #wato


    The press office for the Ukraine defence ministry in Crimea confirms to the BBC that an ultimatum from Russia's Black Sea Fleet has been delivered. The Russian naval forces are said to have given Ukraine's forces in the region until 05:00 local time (03:00 GMT) to surrender or else face an all-out assault.

    16:02: RBL in London

    emails: Russia won't stop here, why not? Without Crimea, Ukrainian balance will tilt west so their action would be counterproductive. The imperative is to keep going.

    16:10: Richard Galpin BBC News, Moscow

    says Russian military spokespeople in Moscow are not giving any information about the reports of an ultimatum being given (see 15:58 entry). Our correspondent says this is not surprising; if the threat has been made, the military would be unlikely to say anything at this stage.


    Ukraine's ambassador to the EU, Kostiantyn Yelisieiev, told BBC World TV that Russia's "aggression" was an assault on "the whole system of international law" and "this atmosphere of impunity should be stopped". He urged "strong, resolute and coordinated action" by Nato and the OSCE security organisation. "It's time for the world to stand up against the bully," he said, calling for "coordinated measures - diplomatic and some economic, political and even humanitarian" to "put pressure on the Russian authorities". He also warned that Ukraine had information that "Russia is preparing some provocation" in the coming hours.

    Peter Robinson in Leeds

    emails: The democratic alternative to military intervention by Russia would be a referendum by the people of Crimea - who would vote to be part of Russia anyway.


    Ex-oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was freed from a Russian jail in December, has released a statement saying he is ready to travel to "any location in Ukraine... to help prevent bloodshed". He says he believes "the presence of independent and internationally-known individuals... could help prevent the escalation of the conflict". You can read more about Mr Khodorkovsky - once Russia's richest man - in our profile of him here.

    Mikhail Khodorkovsky,

    Sir Christopher Meyer, a former British Ambassador to the US, has told BBC television there is little Western powers can do to persuade the Russians to back down. He said: "I think we now have to accept that there is no way, and no form of pressure that can be deployed right now which will make the Russians withdraw from Crimea. Crimea and the great Russian naval base at Sevastopol are too important to the Russian national interest for them to go... So what we have to do is... come up with a right calibration of language, sanctions and diplomatic initiatives that will stop this crisis escalating into some form of hot war."

    Andrew Hosken BBC News, Ukraine

    tweets: #ukraine #crimea Latest reports from here #kharkiv #Ukraine at border 40 kms away all seems normal

    Image of photos pinned to railing in Kharkiv, Ukraine
    Guy Verhofstadt Liberal group leader, European Parliament

    tweets: Russian military needs to stand down. Ultimatum unacceptable. Negotiating table is the only place to resolve the crisis. #Crimea #Ukraine


    Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev has signed off a project to build a bridge linking the Ukrainian town of Kerch in Crimea to Russia. The bridge would cross the Strait of Kerch, and give Russia's southern Krasnodar region a direct link to Crimea, bypassing the rest of Ukraine. Kiev says the Russian military is currently amassing armoured vehicles across the strait. The bridge has been under discussion for a decade, and was agreed by the deposed President, Viktor Yanukovych.

    Duncan Crawford BBC News

    tweets: Ukraine's Ambassador to the EU Kostiantyn Yelisieiev says #Russia may kill some their own troops as a provocation... (and blame #Ukraine)


    The Russian defence ministry has apparently denied reports that Russian forces gave an ultimatum to the Ukrainian troops in Crimea (see 15:58 entry). "This is utter nonsense", a spokesman for the Russian defence ministry told Vedomosti, a Russian broadsheet.


    The focus of the crisis in Ukraine has shifted from Kiev to the Crimea region, where Russian troops are now reported to be in de-facto control. Here the BBC explains the crisis in a series of maps.

    Chris Morris BBC News

    tweets: Ukrainian ambassador to #EU tells me one sanction they will push for if Moscow doesn't back down is expel Russia from World Cup this summer


    Meanwhile, pro-Russian demonstrators have occupied the regional government building in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine. Donetsk is the home city of the deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych, and most local people are Russian-speakers. Here pro-Russian protesters are seen holding a meeting inside the building.

    Pro-Russian demonstrators hold a meeting after entering the regional government building in Donetsk, on 3 March 2014.

    Interfax-Russia news agency is now quoting a spokesman for the Russian Black Sea Fleet denying reports about an ultimatum being issued to the Ukrainian troops in Crimea. "This is nonsense", a spokesman said. "We are getting used to daily reports accusing us of preparing to military action against our Ukrainian colleagues. We will not be pushed towards a head-on confrontation."


    Judy Dempsey of the Carnegie Europe think-tank writes that "it is time for European leaders to recognise that the age of illusions about Russia is over", as President Putin moves to "consolidate Russia's grip" on Crimea. Read her analysis here.


    The White House has cancelled a US presidential delegation to the Paralympics in Sochi, Russia. It comes after UK PM David Cameron said British ministers would not attend the Games.

    17:38: Richard in Fareham

    emails: One way to appease all is to send in Nato peace-keepers with Russia. This will appease all sides and hopefully stop a conflict.

    Peter Ellen in Edinburgh

    emails: Speaking to friends in Dnepropetrovsk today. All is calm there for now and they noted that moderate minded people who are normally pro-Russian have lost sympathy with Putin and his aggressive tactics. 800 reservists have been called up from men under 45 in the city. They expect more shortly

    Steve Rosenberg BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: Russian senator Andrei Klimov to BBC about events in Crimea: "It is not Russian military intervention. That's the result of propaganda."

    Steve Rosenberg BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: Senator Andrei Klimov: "It's not our job to have bigger & bigger Russia. We are not bad Russian boys. We're normal European people."


    The Polish Foreign Minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, tells the BBC: "My biggest fear is that the Russian authorities believe their own propaganda and make fatal mistakes that open the gates of hell."

    17:56: Herman Van Rompuy European Council President

    tweets: Extraordinary summit of EU Presidents & Prime Ministers called for Thursday to help de-escalate situation in #Ukraine


    EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton will meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Madrid on Tuesday and travel to Kiev on Wednesday, her spokesman Michael Mann says on Twitter.


    EU foreign ministers have issued a statement saying they strongly condemn "the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces." Following an emergency session in Brussels, the ministers called on Russia to immediately withdraw its troops to "the areas of their permanent stationing".

    Breaking News Mark Mardell North America editor

    tweets: US State Dept says they are preparing to put sanctions on Russia and are "moving down that path"

    Duncan Crawford BBC News

    tweets: William Hague earlier said #Ukraine crisis is biggest in Europe in 21st century. #EU leaders to hold extraordinary summit on... Thursday.

    Jonathan Twigg BBC News

    tweets: Outside Dynamo #Kiev stadium w @BBCGavinHewitt. Makeshift fortifications all around us & pall of wood smoke. #Maidan

    Fortifications around Dynamo Kiev stadium

    It is worth remembering that Russia does have an agreement with Ukraine to have up to 25,000 personnel stationed in its bases in Crimea. If it wants to move troops around Crimea, it has to inform the Ukrainian authorities. The EU foreign ministers and others have called for Russian troops to return to their bases in Crimea. You can read more about Russia's military presence in Ukraine here.

    Nick Robinson Political editor

    tweets: BREAKING Government will not curb trade with Russia or close London's financial centre to Russians an official document reveals


    The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson has more on the official document that reveals that the UK government will not curb trade with Russia or close London's financial centre to Russians. The document also says British ministers should "discourage any discussion (eg at Nato) of contingency military preparations". You can read more here.

    Andrew Hosken BBC News, Ukraine

    tweets: #ukraine protests in #kharkiv #ukraine largely peaceful so far tonight both pro and anti #euromaidan

    Protests in Kharkiv
    19:05: Chris Morris BBC News

    says there is strong language in the EU statement - Russia has violated the UN charter and its troops should withdraw to their bases in Crimea without delay. If that doesn't happen by Thursday, when EU leaders will meet in Brussels for an emergency summit, then talk will turn to possible sanctions, some of them diplomatic, some potentially economic.

    Chris Morris BBC News

    adds that there are also differences of emphasis within the EU - several countries want to focus first on getting Russia and Ukraine to talk directly to each other in an effort to de-escalate tensions and avoid a military conflict.


    US President Barack Obama says Russia has violated international law in Ukraine. Russia is on the "wrong side of history", he said, adding that the US would look at a series of economic and diplomatic sanctions that would isolate Moscow. Mr Obama was speaking from the White House before a meeting with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.

    Barack Obama speaks at the White House

    Russia is Europe's biggest supplier of natural gas, and a large proportion of it travels to Europe through Ukrainian pipelines. The current instability has already sent gas and oil prices up, as BBC Business reporter Simon Tullet explains.

    Christian Fraser BBC News, Sevastopol

    says: "No doubt the pressure is building on those who resist in these Ukrainian bases and the risk is that one false move on either side could lead to a dangerous escalation."

    Mark in Leicester, UK

    emails: So our leaders have decided that sanctions are out of the question? A shocking abdication of moral responsibility.


    Ukraine's interim President Olexander Turchynov has said a controversial language law, which states that Russian is one of Ukraine's official languages, will not yet be scrapped. The move to repeal the law was one of its first actions of the new government, much to the anger of Moscow and Russian speakers in Ukraine.


    In a speech broadcast on state TV, Mr Turchynov said he would not give his approval for the 2012 law to be abolished until a new law has been approved by parliament. The new law, he said, would enshrine Ukrainian as the national language, but would still "provide for the development of all languages".


    The turmoil in Ukraine looks set to continue to dominate the world's media on Tuesday. The International New York Times front page reads: "Forces face off at Crimean bases"

    International New York Times front page

    The events in Ukraine are rather overshadowing the build up to the Paralympic Games, due to open in Russia's Sochi on Friday. Russia's Interfax news agency reports that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is "upbeat" about the Games.

    The Paralympic logo is seen at the Laura Cross-Country Ski Biathlon Center ahead of the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi on 3 March 3, 2014

    The International Paralympic Committee has said it is not expecting a boycott by athletes. "All the countries are happy to come here," said IPC spokesman Craig Spence.


    World markets fell on Monday amid a growing sense of crisis. In London, the FTSE 100 closed down 1.5%, while markets across Europe fell as much as 3.5%. Markets in the US also dropped sharply in early trading.


    Nato will hold emergency discussions on Ukraine on Tuesday after Poland requested consultations, Nato has said in a statement.

    Nick Clark Bryan in Oxfordshire

    emails: The West need to start strong, decisive and unified action. As can be seen with history, appeasement never works!


    Acting Ukrainian Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh says that about 16,000 Russian servicemen are currently on Ukrainian territory, the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports, as seen by BBC Monitoring. The agency quotes Mr Tenyukh as telling the Inter TV channel that about 5,500 Russian special-purpose troops had been relocated to Ukraine.


    The Ukrainian border guard tells Reuters that a checkpoint at the ferry crossing between Russia and Crimea has been seized by three truckloads of armed men after they crossed from the Russian side.

    Paul, UK

    emails: The UN need to send in a monitoring team to ensure this doesn't escalate, the UK, US and Europe should be asking athletes to leave Russia as a sign of their discontent.


    CNN's Christiane Amanpour has interviewed former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, in which the recently released opposition figurehead called on the world to "use all the possibilities in order to avoid Ukraine losing Crimea".

    AP 28/02/2014
    20:59: Breaking News

    Ukraine's ousted President Viktor Yanukovych has written to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking him to use military force in Ukraine, says Russia's envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin.

    RD in Simferopol, Crimea

    emails: If European countries are not even prepared to implement sanctions against aggressors like Russia, how can they call themselves champions of democracy and free speech?

    Yevgeniy in Kiev, Ukraine

    emails: I am an IT manager and I am 29-years-old. My father and I and all my friends are ready to take weapons and fight against Russian invaders.


    More on those reports (see 20:44 entry) that armed men have seized control of the ferry crossing between Russia and Crimea - Reuters is now quoting the Ukrainian coast guard as saying that they were Russian troops, and that they have been helping to bring in more troops by ferry.


    The US envoy to the UN, Samantha Power, says there's "no evidence" that ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in Ukraine are under threat. Moscow has repeatedly stated that ethnic Russians are under threat in Ukraine and that it is duty-bound to protect them.

    Yuliya Humanenko in Vinnytsia, Ukraine

    emails: I grew up in the central part of Ukraine, my family is Russian speaking. I have family in the east and the west of Ukraine, and none of them are pressed for the reasons of the use of language. Nowadays, Russian speaking families have Ukrainian speaking children, and it is sad to hear the information about the separation and the use of language. Ukraine has its difficulties, but nobody kills Russian speaking people in this country.


    Here's the important part of a photocopy of the letter read out by the Russian envoy to the UN, which he says was sent by ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to Vladimir Putin: "In view of this [events in Ukraine], I ask the president of Russia, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, to use the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to restore legality, peace, law and order and stability, and to protect the population of Ukraine, (Signed) Viktor Yanukovych, 1 March 2014".

    21:41: Lena in Kiev, Ukraine

    emails: I've lived in Kiev all my life and have spoken Russian all my life. I know Ukrainian, but prefer to speak Russian, because it is my native language. Nobody in Ukraine has infringed upon my rights (despite the fact I speak Russian)! We, Ukrainians, don't want to see Russian troops in Ukraine. We want Peace! We (most of Ukrainians) have not asked Russia to send its troops in Ukraine. We can and want to solve our problems without Russian's interventions.


    And here's the moment the Russian envoy, Vitaliy Churkin, produced what he said was a photocopy of the letter from ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych calling on Vladimir Putin to intervene militarily in Ukraine.

    Vitaliy Churkin holds a document

    Mr Churkin went on to blame the events in Ukraine on Russia's Western "partners", and repeated the demand that the agreement signed by Mr Yanukovych and Ukrainian opposition leaders on 21 February be adhered to.


    The office of UK Prime Minister David Cameron has just released the following statement: "The Prime Minister is clear that continuing to violate Ukraine sovereignty will have costs and consequences. We will take decisions on what these are in close collaboration with EU and G7 partners, and together are considering a range of diplomatic, political and economic measures."


    Mr Cameron's office did not comment directly on leaked documents photographed earlier today which apparently revealed that the UK government will not curb trade with Russia or close London's financial centre to Russians.


    Ukraine's envoy to the UN, Yuriy Sergeyev, tells the Security Council that Kiev is yet to receive an official answer from Moscow about "why are the military forces of Russia are illegally occupying Crimea".


    It's worth noting that Viktor Yanukovych's alleged letter to Vladimir Putin is dated 1 March, but the first instances of armed men - believed now to be Russian soldiers - seizing parts of Crimea were on 27 February.

    Maurice Hartsinck in Woensdrecht, The Netherlands

    emails: The Western countries are seemingly more interested in condemning Russia, whose military hasn't even fired a single shot, than handling the real serious matters; the armed militias who refuse to give up their weapons in Kiev for instance. In Crimea everything is quiet, in the rest of Ukraine it is not.


    More strong words from Ukraine's envoy to the UN, Yuriy Sergeyev, to Russia: "You call it a coup, in the democratic world we call it a revolution of dignity". Mr Sergeyev was referring to the months' of mass unrest in Ukraine, which ended with President Viktor Yanukovych being forced from power.


    Mr Sergeyev also says that Russia has deployed around 16,000 troops to Crimea since 24 February.


    Responding to Mr Sergeyev's statement, Mr Churkin says Moscow can deploy 25,000 soldiers in Crimea according to a bilateral treaty. Mr Churkin also says the Russian troops are guarding Russian objects in Crimea and preventing "radical actions".


    For readers in the UK, BBC Newsnight will be focusing on Ukraine tonight and will feature the BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse in Crimea as well as US Senator John McCain and former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton. Watch it at 22:30 GMT on BBC2.

    Andy Szpuk in Nottingham, UK

    emails: There has been no concrete evidence that Russian civilians in Crimea were ever under threat, it's the flimsiest of excuses to invade a neighbouring country, violating not only international law but basic morals too. The West should act!

    Brendan Cronie in Tenbury Wells, Worcestershire

    emails: The question our leaders must answer is if our Ukrainian friends ask for help when the bullets start flying will we answer?


    Here's a link to the full speech of the US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power at the ongoing Security Council meeting, in which she condemned what she called the "dangerous military intervention in Ukraine".

    US envoy to the UN, Samantha Power

    Ms Power also asks the Russian envoy: "Why choose military action when the consequences will be so devastating?"


    Poland has invoked Article 4 of Nato's founding treaty, under which consultations can be requested when an ally feels their security is threatened. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski has said that while the Ukraine crisis is not a direct threat to Poland and that the country is safe, Poland wants to enlist Nato as a tool to work for stabilisation in Ukraine.


    The French envoy to the UN, Gerard Araud, states bluntly that "the Russian soldiers are currently occupying Ukraine".


    There is some wrangling going on about the deployment and safety of international observers in Crimea. The US says observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) will deploy in Crimea tonight, and calls upon Russia to "ensure that their access is not impeded".

    Anders Ostlund

    tweets: Obvious that #Russia's fear number 1 is a democratic and free #Ukraine. #EuroMaidan #Crimea #Putin


    The Russian envoy to the UN, Vitaliy Churkin, has refused to be drawn on whether he agrees with the OSCE observer mission, after his British counterpart Mark Lyall Grant presses him on the matter.


    After some strong statements on the growing Ukraine crisis, the UN Security Council's emergency meeting has just been adjourned.

    Yuriy Sergeyev 3 March

    It's been a long and stressful afternoon at the UN Security Council in New York, not least for Ukraine's UN envoy Yuriy Sergeyev.


    The US Senate's foreign relations chairman, Robert Menendez, says his committee is developing legislation to provide at least $1bn in loan guarantees to shore up Ukraine's struggling economy, says Reuters.


    Numerous rallies have been held across Europe and in North America against Russia's move to deploy troops in Ukraine. Here, protesters demonstrate in Brussels, Belgium.

    An anti-war protester in Brussels
    BBC Newsnight

    tweets: @SenJohnMcCain tells #newsnight: I've hearing a lot of rhetoric on Ukraine but don't see a lot of action.

    22:51: Andrew Hosken BBC News, Kharkiv

    tweets: I can confirm a Ukranian flag now flies from Kharkiv regional government building not Russian one.

    Boris Lozinsky in Kiev, Ukraine

    emails: I'm Ukrainian, I was born in USSR in a Russian speaking family. All our family is multi-language, but after Putin declared a war to my motherland it's a shame to talk in Russian. I and everyone I know in Ukraine do not plan to attack anyone, but as soon as foreign army forces come to my country with weapons we all are ready to defend our country and our families.

    Editor of BBC Radio 4 PM Joanna Carr

    tweets: Value wiped from Russian stock market today is more than cost of #Sochi Olympics, FT's man in Moscow tells #bbcPM #ukraine #russia


    Speaking to reporters after the UN Security Council meeting, French envoy Gerard Araud urges the world to "let the Ukrainians to decide their own fate", in a reference to planned presidential elections on 25 May.


    Meanwhile, UK envoy Mark Lyall Grant says Russia has not produced "any justification" for its actions in Ukraine.


    In Crimea, Ukrainian troops remain blocked by Russian troops at their military bases. Here, family members and friends of the Ukrainian soldiers form a "human chain" in from of the Belbek base, anticipating a possible attack.

    Family members and friends of blocked Ukrainian soldiers form a "human chain" at the Belbek base
    Kamila Morgan in Exeter

    tweets: Any improvement in reputation that Russia and Putin got from Sochi has been wiped out in a matter of days, @BBC_HaveYourSay #Crimea

    James in London

    emails: Russia is just flexing its muscles and looking to see who jumps. If Nato or the EU show they aren't toothless and show willingness to do more that economic sanctions, Russia will recede. Then the Ukraine government can start to heal the country.

    Mickey in Cumbria

    emails: What we need is a John F Kennedy moment. Someone who declares a red line and is prepared to defend it in the face of Putin's bully boy tactics.

    Huffington Post

    tweets: Poll: Few Americans want the U.S. involved in the #Ukraine crisis


    US President Barack Obama is currently holding a high-level meeting on Ukraine with top military and national security advisers at the White House, a US official is quoted as saying by Reuters.

    Wayne Baker in Doncaster South Yorkshire

    emails: Interesting how the only ones really trying to sound threatening are the USA, who it just so happens are not dependant on Russian oil and gas eh?


    This brings to an end our Monday's coverage of the fast-moving Ukraine crisis. But please stay with the BBC News website, as we'll be launching a new live page at 00:00 GMT.


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