As it happened: Ukraine crisis

Key Points

  • Crimean parliament asks to join Russia and plans referendum for 16 March on endorsing the move
  • EU and US leaders join Ukraine's government in condemning move "as illegal"
  • EU suspends visa and economic talks with Russia and threatens sanctions at emergency summit
  • US imposes visa restrictions on people who "threaten the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine"
  • Pro-Russian forces remain in control of Crimea, where stand-off continues with Ukrainian troops blockaded in bases
  • All times GMT

    Welcome to the BBC's live coverage of the crisis in Ukraine as the focus shifts towards an EU meeting in Brussels.


    Speaking from Brussels, where EU leaders are to begin an emergency summit, the BBC's Matthew Price says there is "quite some disunity" among European states. He says Poland and many eastern European countries want a "firm line" including sanctions against Russia, while some including Germany want to focus on diplomacy to "bring down the tension".


    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says the government is discussing a new law to "simplify" procedures for Russian speakers to gain Russian citizenship, Reuters reports. This would apply to people who had lived in Russia or on territory that was once part of the Russian empire or the Soviet Union, the news agency says.


    What is the right balance between moves to punish Russia and deter her from further aggression and those to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine and encourage dialogue? The BBC's Nick Robinson has this analysis.


    Could a war between Russia and Ukraine start not in Crimea but in the east of the country? The BBC's Paul Wood reports.


    As the military stand-off continues in Ukraine, sailors from the Ukrainian navy, based in Sevastopol, are being prevented from leaving their ships. The BBC's Daniel Sandford reports.


    Former EU advisor Robert Cooper tells the BBC sanctions against Russia would be a "two-edged sword" as trade benefits both Russia and the EU. "The most important thing the EU should now be doing is finding the right ways of supporting Ukraine," he says.


    The BBC's Christian Fraser, in Sevastopol, says there is a "lower Russian presence this morning" at some Ukrainian military bases in Crimea. He says it appears some Russian troops have "returned to base", but it is "too early to draw any conclusions from that".


    A Ukrainian sailor guards the Ukrainian Navy ship the Slavutych blocked in the bay of Sevastopol

    A Ukrainian sailor guards the Ukrainian Navy ship the "Slavutych" blocked in the bay of Sevastopol

    BBC Moscow correspondent Daniel Sandford tweets: Not reassuring. Sergei Markov who often thinks how the Kremlin thinks, writes "Why There Will Be War in Ukraine" in the Moscow Times.

    Christian Fraser stands on the dock with the Ukrainian ship Slavutich in the background

    On the dock at Sevastopol, the BBC's Christian Fraser says officers on the Slavutych - the Ukrainian navy's control and command ship - stood on the stern earlier and played the Ukrainian national anthem and saluted the country's flag. He says the ship has been under blockade in the harbour for a week because the crew refuse to swear allegiance to Crimea's new pro-Russian authorities.


    The BBC's Mark Lowen tweets: "Not so welcome at Sevastopol naval HQ. Still blockaded by locals and soldiers, despite reports to contrary.


    Speaking ahead of the EU meeting in Brussels, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urges Russia to "immediately to pull back its forces", Reuters reports. "We ask Russia to respond, whether they are ready to preserve peace and stability in Europe, or they are ready to instigate other provocations and tensions," he says.


    The US Congress is rushing to impose hard-hitting sanctions against Russia in response to its takeover of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, hoping Europe will follow their lead, AP reports. It says that the American sanctions push represents a rare case of broad agreement among the Obama administration and Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress. But they are also united in their concern that American economic penalties will mean little without the participation of European countries with far deeper commercial relations with Russia.


    Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) is welcomed by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy ahead of a European leaders emergency summit.

    Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) is welcomed by European Council President Herman Van Rompuy ahead of a European leaders emergency summit

    The US will send six additional F-15 fighter jets to enhance Nato's air patrols over the Baltic states, Lithuanian Defence Minister Juozas Olekas tells AFP.


    Kiev-based channel One Plus One TV reports that 12 Ukrainian coast guard ships have broken the Russian blockade of the eastern Crimean port of Kerch. The head of the coast guards tells the channel that if they had not moved the ships from Kerch, it is likely that they would have been destroyed (BBC Monitoring).


    BBC business editor Robert Peston asks: Is there a commercial solution to the crisis in Ukraine? He says one expert believes Russia could negotiate with Ukraine to agree a "lease on Crimea".


    The BBC's Stephen Evans in Berlin says that the strongest German statement against sanctions on Russia for its actions in Ukraine has come from an influential MP in the governing Christian Democrat party. Philipp Missfelder said that sanctions would be like "cutting into our own flesh". "The German economy and the preservation of jobs takes precedence," he said.


    Ukrainian police have regained control of regional government offices in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, a day after militants entered and planted a Russian flag on the roof, AFP reports. A local police source tells the news agency people 75 were arrested in the assault on the building.


    The association of German companies which does business with Russia has warned that "a spiral of sanctions" would turn into "sustained damage to the European economy", with the possibility of companies being expropriated by the Russian authorities, the BBC's Stephen Evans in Berlin reports.


    While loud voices normally very supportive of German Chancellor Angela Merkel have spoken out against sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine, it should be said that some influential Germans are arguing that a failure to punish Russia would lead eventually to threats against former Soviet-satellite countries like Poland and the Baltic states who are now in the EU, the BBC's Stephen Evans in Berlin says.


    A US-based anchor on television channel Russia Today has resigned live on air in protest against Russia's actions in Ukraine. During a broadcast, Liz Wahl said: "Personally, I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin."


    A referendum will ask whether Crimea should remain part of Ukraine or join Russia, Reuters reports the "Crimean vice premier" as saying.


    Crimea's Vice Premier Rustam Temirgaliev says that a referendum on the region's status will take place on 16 March, RIA news agency quoted by Reuters says. It says that the referendum will ask people whether Crimea should remain part of Ukraine or join the Russian Federation.


    Responding to Liz Wahl's on-air resignation, Russia Today issues a statement saying: "When a journalist disagrees with the editorial position of his or her organisation, the usual course of action is to address those grievances with the editor, and, if they cannot be resolved, to quit like a professional. But when someone makes a big public show of a personal decision, it is nothing more than a self-promotional stunt."


    Events have stripped Europe's leaders of their illusions. They are gathering in Brussels for an emergency summit on Ukraine in a sombre mood, the BBC Gavin Hewitt says.


    The Russian central bank has put a Moscow subsidiary of Ukraine's Privatbank under "temporary administration", but is licence is not suspended, Reuters reports.

    Three soldiers standing next to a wall topped with barbed wire

    Ukrainian soldiers are still guarding the country's military bases in Crimea, amid reports that some of the Russian and pro-Russian forces surrounding them have returned to their bases (see 08:37).


    Russian sailors have sunk a decommissioned anti-submarine ship, the Ochakov, at the entrance to Lake Donuzlav in western Crimea to prevent Ukrainian navy ships gaining access to the Black Sea, the Ukrainian news agency Unian reports, quoting a military source in Sevastopol (BBC Monitoring).


    French President Francois Hollande says that pressure must be applied "to de-escalate" the situation in Ukraine and move towards mediation, Reuters reports.


    Arriving at the EU summit in Brussels, UK Prime Minister David Cameron says three key points must be addressed. He says Russia and Ukraine must open talks, the EU must show it will "help the Ukrainian people in their hour of need" and Russia must be sent a "very clear message" that its actions have been "unacceptable and should have consequences".


    BBC Moscow correspondent Daniel Sandford in Crimea on his twitter account posts a picture of a Ukrainian marine (behind a wall) peering at Russian troops outside their Perevalnoye base.

    Ukrainian marine (behind a wall) peers at Russian troops outside their Perevalnoye base in Crimea

    While Russian troops (pictured) are still to be seen at Perevalnoye in Crimea, the situation at Simferopol is completely different on Thursday morning in comparison to Saturday, the BBC's Daniel Sandford in Crimea tweets. "No Russian troops. We saw only two Black Sea Fleet trucks on road from Sevastopol."

    Russian troops at Perevalnoye
    John Kerry

    John Kerry has arrived in Rome and had talks with the Italian, German and French foreign ministers and a top British official. The US secretary of state and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, are both in Italy for long-scheduled talks on the situation in Libya. The pair are expected to meet to discuss Ukraine later.


    The pro-Russian mayor of the Crimean port of Sevastopol says the city will not take part in the Ukrainian presidential election scheduled for 25 May, Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports. Alexei Chaly, elected to the newly created position of chairman of Sevatopol's executive committee by a rally on 23 February, is quoted as saying: "Sevastopol refuses to take part in the election imposed by the illegitimate authorities." (BBC Monitoring).


    Crimea's parliament has unanimously voted in favour of becoming part of Russia, the RIA news agency quoted by Reuters says.


    "The parliament of Crimea has adopted a motion for Crimea to join Russia. It has asked the Russian president and parliament to consider this request," a member of the parliament's leadership, Grigoriy Ioffe, tells AFP.


    Lindsey Hilsum of Channel 4 News tweets: "Russian forces have left some Ukrainian bases in Crimea but destroyed equipment including aircraft in others."


    Pro-Russian authorities in Crimea have asked Vladimir Putin to consider a request for the region to join the Russian Federation, which will be put to a referendum on March 16, AFP reports.


    An opinion poll carried out in Russia over the weekend found 71% of Russians believe their country should protect the interests of ethnic Russians in Crimea more actively, Interfax news agency reports. The poll, by Russia's Public Opinion Research Centre, found 17% think it is better not to clash with the Ukrainian authorities (BBC Monitoring).


    Russian President Vladimir Putin is informed about a decision by the Crimean parliament asking him to allow the region to become part of Russia, the Kremlin is reported by AFP to have said.

    Breaking News

    The Crimean parliament votes to hold a referendum on 16 March in which voters will be asked on whether the region should join the Russian Federation.


    Speaking in Kiev, Ukraine's interim Economy Minister Pavlo Sheremeta says: "We're not working out what to do if Crimea joins the Russian Federation because we believe it's unconstitutional."


    German Chancellor Angela Merkel says a "range of sanctions" will be considered at the EU talks. Germany is believed to want more moderate action than other EU states, and Mrs Merkel says whether sanctions "will need to be implemented" will depend on "how far the diplomatic process" moves forward.


    Russia's third-biggest mobile phone operator Vimpelcom has no plans to leave Ukraine, where it is the top mobile operator with its Kyivstar brand, its CEO Jo Lunder tells Reuters.


    Ukrainian interim Finance Minister Pavlo Sheremeta tells the BBC that his country "has no choice" in relation to increasing gas prices. "We'd like to be the first government that is honest - [we have] no money any longer to subsidise," he says.

    A Ukrainian soldier approaches two masked soldiers, believed to be Russian

    Sources in the Crimean parliament have told the BBC they are now waiting for a response from Moscow to their request for Crimea to become a part of Russia. Meanwhile pro-Russian forces remain outside Ukrainian military bases in Crimea.


    In the referendum on 16 March, Crimean voters are to be offered two options: Are you in favour of reuniting Crimea with Russia as a subject of the Russian Federation? Are you in favour of restoring the constitution of the Republic of Crimea of 1992 and retaining the status of Crimea as part of Ukraine?


    A source in the Crimean parliament explains to the BBC that the move to join Russia only reflects the view of the parliament - they are now waiting for an answer from Russia. If Russia agrees to accept them, then the final decision of the Crimean people will be made at the referendum. It is not clear what will happen in the unlikely event of Russia refusing to accept them, correspondents say.


    BBC Moscow correspondent Daniel Sandford tweets: "The Crimean parliament has voted to join Russia and hold a referendum on whether to join. Russian TV says Crimea has joined. Confusing."


    Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vasily Nebenzya tells the BBC - before the news about the referendum move in the Crimean parliament - that:

    • Ukrainian membership in Nato is a "red line" for Moscow
    • "I do not imagine Ukraine in Nato - neither in immediate future nor in the future at all, [the] best option is to stay neutral."
    • West should bear some responsibility for what is happening in Ukraine
    • Russia wants "negotiations and political dialogue" to resolve the crisis
    • Moscow still refuses to admit that armed men in Crimea are under Russia's control

    Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed Ukraine, including the Crimean parliament's appeal to let the region join Russia, at a meeting of his Security Council on Thursday, the RIA news agency quoted his spokesman as saying.


    Moscow stocks have fallen, reversing gains from early Thursday, Reuters reports. Meanwhile the rouble has weakened further after reports that the parliament of Ukraine's Crimea had voted in favour of becoming part of Russia.


    To recap:

    • Members of Crimea's regional parliament have voted unanimously to make Crimea part of Russia
    • The plan will be put to a referendum on 16 March, when the majority Russian-speaking population is expected to approve it
    • The parliament does not officially have power to do this, but the peninsula is still in effect under Russian control
    • An advisor to the Russian government has told the BBC the Kremlin is unlikely to stand in the way of a referendum

    Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) talks to French President Francois Hollande during the emergency summit of European leaders on Ukraine being held in Brussels.

    kraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) talks to French President Francois Hollande during the emergency summit of European leaders on Ukraine being held in Brussels

    The BBC's Christian Fraser, on board Ukrainian navy ship Slavutych in Sevastopol harbour, says he has been shown the guns of marines on board and there are no bullets in them. "What they are trying to show the Russians is that they want this to be a peaceful stand-off," he says.


    The US Air Force is sending six additional F-15 jets from Lakenheath in Suffolk, UK, to Lithuania. They are being sent to bolster the existing "Baltic Air Policing" mission and will be based less than 480km (300 miles) from Ukraine.

    11:34: Sandy Millin, Kiev (previously working in Sevastopol)

    emails: I really didn't want to leave and everything still feels safe, despite the "ultimatum" issued on Monday. It was a beautiful warm day in Sevastopol, and it's impossible to believe that this place I'm reading about in the news is the same one I have left. It has been a very difficult decision to make, which I have agonised over and am still not completely happy with. In the end, it was taken out of my hands."

    A soldier standing guard

    Moscow has said the armed men outside Ukrainian military bases in Crimea are local volunteers, but they are widely believed to be Russian soldiers.


    Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe envoy Tim Guildimann tells a news conference in Kiev that Ukraine remains on the brink of violence: "The situation might seem quiet, almost normal, if you go to the streets. However it's extremely tense and I would consider it a miracle that bloodshed [has been] avoided so far given the political and even military circumstances on the ground."


    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov holds talks on the crisis in Ukraine with his Italian counterpart, Federica Mogherini in Rome, the BBC's Alan Johnston reports.


    The legal position in Ukraine regarding the possible secession of Crimea is unclear. Under Ukraine's constitution, "issues of altering the territory of Ukraine are resolved exclusively by an all-Ukrainian referendum". But the constitution also says Crimea is entitled to call its own local referendums.


    (Left to right) Polish PM Donald Tusk, French President Francois Hollande, British PM David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian PM Matteo Renzi meet in Brussels ahead of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine.

    Polish PM Donald Tusk (left to right), French President Francois Hollande, British PM David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian PM Matteo Renzi meet ahead of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine, in Brussels

    Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has expressed his "solidarity" with Russian President Vladimir Putin's position on the crisis in Ukraine, state media is reported by AFP to have said.


    Pro-Russian authorities plan to "nationalise" state property in Ukraine's Crimea region, Interfax reports.


    The Ukrainian foreign ministry warns of plans to stage "acts of provocation in Crimea", the Interfax-Ukraine news agency reports. "There may be a terror attack or an attack by people wearing uniforms of Ukrainian servicemen," the agency quotes the head of the ministry's information policy department as saying.


    The EU is not expected to freeze talks on its "visa-free regime" with Russia because of developments in Ukraine, the Russian foreign ministry is quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.


    The Russian parliament could look at Crimea's appeal to join Russia as early as next week, The Guardian's Moscow correspondent Shaun Walker tweets.


    The acting commander of the Ukrainian Navy, Serhiy Hayduk, has appealed for peace in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol. "By not using weapons we show that we are doing our utmost to prevent bloodshed and victims among civilians," he said in a pre-recorded statement carried by Kiev-based 5 Kanal TV. Via BBC Monitoring

    Anshel Pfeffer, Simferopol

    tweets: Now they're standing in an orderly line. A few minutes ago they were roughing up female protesters #Crimea parliament


    Russia is planning an "annexation" of Crimea and other parts of Ukraine, opposition Russian politician Leonid Gozman tells a meeting of centre-right EU politicians in Dublin, PA reports. "The majority of Russians support our aggression in Crimea, the majority of Russians are very happy that we are planning to bring an annexation of Crimea and other parts of Ukraine," Mr Gozman says.


    British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet in Brussels ahead of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine.

    British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel meet ahead in Brussels ahead of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine

    Holding a referendum in Crimea is illegal, the Ukrainian justice ministry is reported by Interfax-Ukraine to have said.


    The United States is "pursuing and reviewing a wide range of options in response to Russia's ongoing violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity - actions that constitute a threat to peace and security and a breach of international law", a White House statement says.


    The state department "is putting in place visa restrictions on a number of officials and individuals, reflecting a policy decision to deny visas to those responsible for or complicit in threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine", the White House statement says. It is not clear who in particular will be affected by the restrictions, correspondents say.

    12:52: Breaking News

    The US is to impose visa restrictions on "officials and individuals" complicit in "threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine", the White House says.


    President Obama "has signed an Executive Order that authorises sanctions on individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine; threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine", the White House statement says.


    "We call on Russia to take the opportunity before it to resolve this crisis through direct and immediate dialogue with the Government of Ukraine, the immediate pull-back of Russia's military forces to their bases, the restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity and support for the urgent deployment of international observers and human rights monitors who can assure that the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians," the White House statement says.


    Ukraine's state energy company Naftogaz says it has fully paid for Russian gas supplied in January and is in talks with Russia's Gazprom on settling other payments to ensure safe gas deliveries, Reuters reports.


    US Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov in Rome, Reuters reports.


    Police and Cossacks detain a woman protesting against developments in Crimea in front of the regional parliament building in Simferopol.

    Police and Cossacks detain a woman protesting against developments in Crimea in front of the regional parliament building in Simferopol

    EU delegation to Ukraine head Ian Tombinskyy - speaking on proposals for a referendum in Crimea - says that under article 73 of the Ukrainian Constitution, issues relating to the alteration of the territory of Ukraine must be resolved exclusively by an all-Ukrainian referendum - "so it's quite clear that [a] referendum in only part of Ukraine is not a way to decide about it".


    Crimea is part of Ukraine so "what relates to Crimea should be solved on the basis of Ukrainian law," Mr Tombinskyy adds.


    The Speaker of the Crimean parliament, Volodymyr Konstantynov, says that the wording of the referendum about Crimea's secession from Ukraine has been kept as simple as possible. "We did not try to disguise these questions or hide them behind high-brow phrases that would prevent people from understanding what they are voting for," he says.


    A 40-strong team from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is prevented by gunmen from entering Crimea to begin their monitoring mission, AFP reports, citing an unnamed "Western diplomatic source".


    A decree making Crimea part of Russia is already in force and Ukrainian troops still on its territory will be treated as occupiers and forced to surrender or leave, Crimea's deputy prime minister is quoted by Reuters as saying. "The only lawful armed force on the territory of the Crimea is the Russian armed forces," Rustam Temirgaliev is reported to have said.

    Members of Crimean self-defence units block a topless activist from the Ukrainian feminist group Femen, who is taking part in an anti-war protest near the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol, March 6, 2014.

    Activists from the Ukrainian feminist group, Femen, join anti-war demonstrations near the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol.

    13:27: Rustem Turna, Kharkov

    emails: I am Crimean Tatar by nationality and a citizen of Ukraine. I speak Russian, but also have a lot of Ukrainian speaking friends. My parents, sister and girlfriend live in Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. And all of us no matter where we live, no matter of our religion, no matter what language we speak are UKRAINIANS. So my reaction to Russian troop deployment in Crimea is "go Home please, we are not in need of help".


    Refat Chubarov, the leader of the Tatar ethnic minority in Crimea, has sharply criticised Crimean parliament members who earlier voted to call a referendum on joining Russia. "They are simply mad. It is obvious that they are following somebody else's wishes. Good sense has abandoned them," Mr Chubarov writes on his Facebook page (via BBC Monitoring).

    13:32: Steve Rosenberg, BBC News

    tweets: Interesting on Russian state TV now: pundit warns of problems for Russia if it takes Crimea: isolation/sanctions/'international law issues'


    It is not clear who exactly has been targeted by the recently-announced US visa restrictions. The White House said in its statement that the order was a "flexible tool that will allow us to sanction those who are most directly involved in destabilising Ukraine, including the military intervention in Crimea", and warned: "Depending on how the situation develops, the US is prepared to consider additional steps and sanctions as necessary."

    Lindsey Hilsum, Channel 4 News International Editor

    tweets: "Tatar opposition leader Rifat Shubarov says Crimeans should boycott referendum on whether to join #Russia as it has no base in law."

    13:41: Will Vernon, BBC News in Simferopol

    tweets: Armed militia inside the #Crimea parliament in #Simferopol. Police weren't too happy about me taking a photo.

    Armed militia signal people to leave inside Crimean parliament in Simferopol on 6 March

    The USS Truxtun, a US Navy guided-missile destroyer, is heading to the Black Sea for what the US military has described as a "routine" deployment that was scheduled well before the crisis in Ukraine began, Reuters reports.


    A copy of the US White House statement announcing US visa restrictions "on a number of officials and individuals" can be read here.


    More on the detention of a 40-strong team from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) as they try to enter Crimea. They were stopped by unidentified men in military fatigues, Polish Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak is quoted as saying by Reuters.


    Any Russian actions in Ukraine could escalate the situation further and the US is ready to take "additional actions", an unnamed senior US official is quoted by Reuters as saying.


    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) and US Secretary of State John Kerry meet to discuss the Ukraine crisis in Rome.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (right) and US Secretary of State John Kerry meet to discuss the Ukraine crisis in Rome

    Russia's official rolling news channel Rossiya 24 is now broadcasting on the frequencies normally used by Crimea's largest private television company, Black Sea TV, Kiev-based Telekritika website reports.


    Rossiya 24 has been sharply critical of the events in Kiev that led to the overthrow of President Yanukovych, saying they were orchestrated by "extremists and neo-Nazis" with help from the West.


    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says after talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry that there is no agreement on Ukraine yet, Interfax reports.

    Breaking News

    Ukraine's interim PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk calls the Crimean parliament's decision to call a referendum illegal and says it has no "legal grounds at all".


    "This is an illegitimate decision and this so-called referendum has no legal grounds at all. That's the reason why we urge the Russian government not to support those who claim separatism in Ukraine. Crimea was, is, and will be, an integral part of Ukraine," Mr Yatsenyuk tells reporters at a press conference in Brussels.


    Mr Yatsenyuk calls on Russia to withdraw its troops and "start real talks and negotiations for the peaceful solution".


    Here is Mr Yatsenyuk speaking to reporters in Brussels.

    Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk holds a news conference during a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine, in Brussels on 6 March 2014.

    The BBC's Mark Urban, who is at the EU summit in Brussels, writes about the history haunting the EU leaders in his blog: "The problem is that it's a different history that preoccupies each of them and hinders the search for consensus."

    Steve Rosenberg, BBC Moscow correspondent

    tweets: How have the Russian markets reacted to today's news from Crimea? Negatively. Stocks have fallen, rouble weakened.


    Mr Yatsenyuk also vowed to defend Ukraine against Russian military intervention, saying "we are ready to protect our country".


    European Commission President Mario Draghi says there should be no impact on the eurozone from the Ukraine crisis, Reuters reports. But, he said, there was potential for far greater instability spreading from the nearby region if the situation escalates.


    The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) now confirms its observers were prevented from entering Ukraine's Crimea region on Thursday, AFP reports, citing OSCE spokeswoman Natacha Rajakovic.


    Ukrainian naval ships are blocked in the port of Sevastopol by Russian warships.

    Sailors stand aboard the Ukrainian naval ships Ternipol (L) and Slavutych on 6 March 2014 in Sevastopol, Ukraine.

    Ukrainian media officials say armed men accompanied by Russian state TV representatives have captured the state-run operator of television transmitters in Crimea. Via BBC Monitoring

    Marina, Kharkiv

    emails: I was born in Sevastopol and my parents still live here. We are all speak Russian and never feel any difficulty with this in our country. We are all want to live in Ukraine and love it so much, but we are really afraid of Russian occupation and the Russian military with weapons. We don't want to live in Russia, we don't want a war.... Help us to defend our independence in Ukraine and to defend our families from a war and Russian occupation!!!


    The pro-Russian protest leader in Ukraine's eastern city of Donetsk, Pavel Gubarev, has been arrested in his apartment. BBC reporters on the ground witnessed the arrest taking place by Ukrainian security services in the last few minutes.

    Richard Galpin, BBC News

    tweets: Question now - is Russia's latest move on Crimea a bargaining chip to achieve change in Ukraine govt or start of broader military campaign?


    Pavel Gubarev (centre) led demonstrators in Donetsk on Wednesday.

    Activist Pavel Gubarev speaks to demonstrators during a rally in front of the regional administrative building in Donetsk, Ukraine, Wednesday, on 5 March 2014.

    Pro-Moscow protesters led by Mr Gubarev blockaded Donetsk's regional administration building and flew the Russian flag. He was detained on charges of "infringing the territorial integrity and independence of the state", Reuters reports.


    Russia's foreign ministry says the US is unable to accept that things in Ukraine are not developing as they expected them to, Reuters reports. It was responding to the US state department's publication of President Putin's Fiction: 10 False Claims About Ukraine.


    Apart from the well-known Russian, Ukrainian and Soviet flags, several other flags have been seen in the protests in Ukraine. But what do they all mean, asks the BBC Magazine?


    Russian President Vladimir Putin is not among those targeted by US sanctions in connection with the Ukraine crisis, Reuters quotes a senior US official as saying. "It is an unusual and extraordinary circumstance to sanction a head of state, and we would not begin our designations by doing so," the official said.


    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk says he has invited Nato leaders for talks in Kiev on military co-operation.


    Crimea's parliament says it has voted to set up new ministries which will become independent of Kiev. These include the ministries of the interior, justice and fuel and energy. Via BBC Monitoring


    The flag of the Ukrainian navy is on display in the western city of Lviv, in solidarity with Ukrainian sailors in Crimea.

    A Ukrainian Naval Forces flag is on display at the city hall building in Lviv, in support of Ukrainian military sailors based in Crimea, on 6 March 2014.

    Mr Yatsenyuk said Nato, of which Ukraine is not a member, was an "important political vehicle". "We still believe that we need to do the utmost to deal with the crisis diplomatically," he said.


    For those of you just joining, welcome to the BBC's live coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, where a request by the Crimean parliament for the region to join Russia has caused new tension. Stick with us for the latest developments, analysis and colour from correspondents and your comments, of course.


    The Ukrainian foreign ministry's press secretary has accused Russia's parliament of co-ordinating the vote with Crimea's parliament to join Russia, Interfax news agency reports.

    "All that is happening now - the decision by the Crimean Supreme Council and statements by the Federation Council and State Duma - are evidence that this is co-ordinated action," Yevhen Perebiynis is quoted as saying.


    In case you missed this earlier, here's a video of Russia Today TV presenter Liz Wahl resigning on air.


    The US state department's information on Ukraine "is "cynical, low-rate propaganda", the Russian foreign ministry says, according to Interfax. Via BBC Monitoring


    The BBC's Kevin Bishop writes on Twitter that he and his crew were stuck on board the Ukrainian navy ship Slavutych in Sevastopol after a "dozen or more cossacks appeared on the quay, appearing to block our exit route".


    He posted a series of photos from on board the Slavutych. This one, he says, shows Cossacks blocking his exit from the quay.

    Cossacks blocking the exit to the quay in Sevastopol on 6 March 2014
    Kevin Bishop, BBC News, Sevastopol

    tweets: Eventually the commander of the sister ship Ternopil went to negotiate our safe passage through. It was tense but we passed through.


    Why does Crimea matter so much to Russia? Read our backgrounder Does Russia have a case? to find out more.


    Former boxer and Udar party leader Vitaly Klitschko (centre) addresses a pro-Ukraine rally with the former President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili (right), in Dublin. A conference of senior EU politicians is being held there.

    Vitaly Klitschko, (C) leader of Ukraine's UDAR party, addresses a pro-Ukrainian rally with Mikheil Saakashvili (R) former President of Georgia, outside the Dublin Convention Centre in Ireland, on 6 March 6, 2014.

    This video posted by Russia's Life News TV shows the arrest of pro-Moscow protest leader Pavel Gubarev in Donetsk. Mr Gubarev was being interviewed by the BBC at the time of his arrest.


    Ukrainian Paralympic Committee President Valeriy Suskevich says he wants Russia to end the conflict in Crimea during the Sochi Paralympic Games. Some of the Ukrainian athletes are considering boycotting the Games, he told the BBC, and many of them have been in tears fearing for the future of their country. The Games are due to start on Friday.

    Mark Mardell, BBC North America Editor

    We know that the bank balance of the man most responsible for the crisis in Ukraine is not in US sights. Putin isn't on any potential blacklist. It's others lower down the food chain who are being targeted. The new US sanctions are at the moment a threat, not a punishment. They are intended to be a big rock hovering over the head of individuals, forcing them to question their next step in Ukraine.


    The former head of the Muslim Tatar minority in Crimea, Mustafa Dzhemilev, has appealed to Turkey, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan to help make sure Crimea remains part of Ukraine. "Do not leave your Crimean brothers and sisters on their own at this difficult time," he said in an interview with Azerbaijani website Via BBC Monitoring


    French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who is currently hosting a ministerial meeting in Rome, says the proposed referendum in Crimea threatens Ukraine's values: "Well that changes the system entirely because it would mean that the territorial integrity of Ukraine would not be respected and for us the territorial integrity of the country is fundamental."


    The EU has agreed to suspend visa negotiations with Russia immediately over Ukraine, says European Council chief Herman Van Rompuy after a meeting of EU heads of states in Brussels.


    A shot of a Russian anti-submarine ship, which was apparently scuttled by Russian forces early on Thursday in a bid to trap Ukrainian vessels in a lake in western Crimea

    People watch the Russian anti-submarine ship "Ochakov" which was scuttled by Russian forces at a Black Sea shore outside the town of Myrnyi, western Crimea, Ukraine, on 6 March 2014.

    The US military is sending 12 F-16 fighter jets to Poland for a training exercise, according to Polish media reports. The Polish defence ministry has not confirmed the reports, says Reuters.

    Earlier, the US Air Force announced it was sending six additional F-15 jets to Lithuania to bolster the existing "Baltic Air Police" mission there.


    Tensions remain high in Donetsk. Here police detain a pro-Russian demonstrator at a rally outside the regional administrative building in the city.

    Police detain a pro-Russian demonstrator during a rally at the regional administrative building in Donetsk, Ukraine, on 6 March 2014.
    17:10: Breaking News

    EU to suspend talks on visa deal and threatens further sanctions if Russia does engage in talks on Ukraine crisis


    UK Prime Minister David Cameron says "there can be no business as usual" with Russia, speaking after the meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. Asset freezes and travel bans could happen relatively quickly unless progress is made on dialogue, he adds.


    In a live address to the nation, interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov describes the Crimea referendum as "a farce and crime organised by the Russian forces". It "contradicts the will of the Ukrainian people and the interests of Crimean residents, " he adds.


    Mr Turchynov says the Ukrainian parliament will disband the Crimean parliament over its request to join Russia, in a live televised address shown on national TV, BBC Monitoring reports.


    On the threat of sanctions against Russia, German chancellor Angela Merkel says: "I hope it won't come to that but we made it very clear here today that we are ready to go ahead with this if it became necessary."


    The EU considers Crimea's decision to hold a referendum as "contrary to the Ukrainian constitution and therefore illegal", says European Council President Herman Van Rompuy


    The European Council president tells reporters in Brussels: "Russia must withdraw"

    European Council President Herman Van Rompuy speaks at a news conference at the end of a European leaders emergency summit on Ukraine, in Brussels on 6 March 2014.

    Mr Van Rompuy said the Ukraine crisis was "most serious challenge to security on our continent since the Balkan wars" of the 1990s.


    The EU statement on Ukraine can be read in full here.


    In further reaction, Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his country will not recognise any referendum held in Crimea as long as Russia maintains its "illegal military occupation" there, Reuters reports.


    Interpol receives a request to issue a red notice for the arrest of Ukraine's ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, Reuters reports. The interim authorities in Kiev issued an arrest warrant for Mr Yanukovych last month.


    More on the US decision to send 12 F-16 jets to Poland (see 17:03) - the US ambassador to Poland, Stephen Mull, says the scale of the training drill is designed to reassure US allies in the light of the Ukraine crisis.


    The US first deployed troops in Poland in 2012 to conduct training exercises for Polish airmen, says the BBC's Adam Easton in Warsaw. Although small scale it was seen at the time as a political signal that the US is serious about Poland's security, he continues, but this announcement is a serious step up in scale.


    The UK Treasury website has published a list of Ukrainian individuals facing sanctions. They include ousted leader Viktor Yanukovych and former PM Mykola Azarov.


    US President Barack Obama is talking from the White House on the Ukraine crisis.


    Mr Obama says US targeted sanctions were taken in coordination with European allies. "I am confident we are moving forward together," he says.


    President Obama says the Crimea referendum "would violate international law" and that any decision on Crimea "must include the Ukrainian government".


    President Obama: If Russia continues to violate international law, the US and its allies will remain firm.

    Iryna Terlecky, London

    emails: Haven't seen much sign today of President Putin moving towards diplomacy. Hope the EU's ready to go further if he agrees to Crimean Parliament request for union with Russia and supports anti-constitutional referendum.


    A Ukrainian soldier talks to his family inside Belbek Airbase, near Sevastopol

    A soldier talks to his family inside the air base in Belbek, not far from Sevastopol on 6 March 2014.
    Radosław Sikorski, Foreign Minister of Poland

    tweets: In Narva, Estonia, for V4+Baltic+Nordic FMs meeting, a town with 97% Russians. Can fraternal assistance from Spetsnatz be avoided here now?


    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, now on the podium, refuses to name the individuals targeted by US sanctions.

    Mark Mardell, BBC North America Editor

    tweets: Obama at pains to stress unity with European Union, "confident of moving forward together"


    President Obama addressing reporters at the White House on Ukraine, a short while ago.

    President Barack Obama talks about the situation in Ukraine, on 6 March 2014, in the briefing room of the White House in Washington.

    US Secretary of State John Kerry is now speaking from Rome.


    Mr Kerry says the US has taken specific steps in response to events in Ukraine, including tough visa restrictions on a number of individuals.


    The choices Russia made have escalated the situation in Ukraine, says Mr Kerry. But we believe Russia has the option to make the right choices, he adds.


    John Kerry: We cannot allow Russia or any country to defy international law with impunity.


    Ukraine has the international community's full support, says Mr Kerry. "We want everyone to understand that our preference is to get back to normality, where the rights of Ukraine are respected and Ukrainian territorial integrity is respected," he adds.


    Crimea is "in Ukraine", Mr Kerry stresses in response to a question on the referendum called earlier by the Crimean parliament. "Ukrainians need to live by Ukrainian law and by the constitution," he adds.

    John Doyle, Wohlen, Switzerland

    emails: Maybe access to Kaliningrad should be put on the list of possible sanctions?

    Irfan Ymeri, Finland

    emails: I'm disgusted by the EU. The EU has shown its true anti-democratic face! They have decided to sign a co-operation deal with unelected leaders of Ukraine! It effectively means that Ukrainian people didn't have a say! Shame on you!

    Duncan Crawford, BBC News

    tweets: Will most of the cash Yanukovych, his sons and 15 others are alleged to have nicked have been secured before these EU sanctions came in?


    Asked on differences within the EU on how to deal with Ukraine, John Kerry denied any "gaps" between EU members, saying "fundamentally there is no difference whatsoever". "Europe on its own has announced that they have taken some steps," he continues.


    Speaking in Dublin, Ukrainian former Premier Yulia Tymoshenko makes an emotional appeal for greater European integration.


    Ms Tymoshenko says: "We are building a European nation - we are doing this and nobody can stop us. We owe this to those who died and to those who are living."

    Dzoni, Kragujevac, Serbia

    emails: Hey BBC did you talk about international law when your country with USA bombed my country? Did you talk then about sovereignty when Kosovo was part of Serbia for 800 years. Did you ever talk about what happened when Nato came into Kosovo? How many Serbs were killed? Like always with EU and USA, it's double standards everywhere.


    Ms Tymoshenko addressing EU delegates in Dublin.

    Yulia Tymoshenko, addresses delegates at the Dublin Convention Centre in Dublin, Ireland, on 6 March 2014.
    Sarah Rainsford, BBC News in Kiev

    tweets: Gloomy mood on Independence Square amongst memorials and barricades: fears Crimea already lost; that government/world powerless to halt Russian ambitions


    The Pentagon says six US F-15 jets and 60 US military personnel have now arrived in Lithuania to bolster air patrols over the Baltics, Associated Press reports. This adds to the four F-15s and 150 troops that are already patrolling in the area.


    The US military earlier announced it was sending the USS Truxtun, a navy guided-missile destroyer, to the Black Sea for what it described as a "routine" deployment that was scheduled before the crisis began.


    Demonstrators outside the White House stage a rally against Russian intervention in Ukraine.

    Demonstrators hold placards during a rally against Russian aggression in the Ukraine in front of the White House in Washington DC, on 6 March 2014.
    Marat, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

    emails: New politicians in Kiev came to power using right-wing Svoboda party and without elections or referendum, EU calls it legal. But Crimea referendum initiated by local people EU calls illegal?


    Crimea's referendum on Russia will be a test of Western nerves, writes the BBC's Jonathan Marcus. He says diplomats are now struggling to elucidate what light this move by the Crimean parliament throws on Russian President Vladimir Putin's game plan.

    Robert Jenkins, Hannover, Germany

    emails: Whether the vote that the people of the Crimea region have is legal is now very moot. However, the people should have the right to have a third option on the ballot and that is to become an independent state.


    The US is considering how to use its natural gas resources to ease European reluctance to enact sanctions over the Ukraine crisis, deputy secretary of state William Burns tells a Senate committee (Reuters). Russia provides a quarter of Europe's natural gas, half of it through Ukraine.

    Pavlo, London and Kharkiv

    emails: During this political turmoil where the current government is manifesting itself as useless and spineless, some things are getting missed. They may seem to be negligible on global scale but are nonetheless important for local people. In my native town of Kharkiv, due to the financing being cut off by the government, the animals in the local zoo are on the verge of starvation. This has no relation to politics but just serves saving poor living creatures.

    Oleg Khrapunov, Kiev, Ukraine

    emails: Why are the West and the US trying to isolate Russia? Do they not see that behind any politician there are millions of innocent lives? Why is the press not showing other cities and regions in Ukraine, besides the Crimean region, who are actively protesting against the "Maidan" and the illegal and barbaric taking of power? Why is the EU not investigating what happened in Kiev? The country is divided! I'm not pro-Yanukovych, however these people are no different except that they are pro-West.

    Vladimir, Montreal, Canada

    emails: New politicians in Kiev came to power after the legitimate Ukrainian parliament voted in favor of new leadership. Ukraine still have a legitimate government. As for the Crimea referendum, it is illegal because it violates the Ukrainian Constitution and Crimea is still part of Ukraine.


    People in Sevastopol in Crimea cheer after the city council votes to become part of Russia.

    People waving Russian flags in Sevastopol, Ukraine

    The US House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved legislation that backs financial aid to Ukraine's new government. The upper house, the Senate, is expected to consider a similar bill backing $1bn (£597m) in loan guarantees next week, Reuters reports.

    Michael McFaul, Professor at Stanford University

    tweets: If Russian govt. endorses Crimean referendum, will they also allow/endorse similar votes in republics in Russian Federation?


    A crowd of pro-Ukrainian activists protest against Russian aggression in Crimea at a rally in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv.

    Pro-Ukrainian activists sing the state anthem during a rally in the centre of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on 6 March 2014

    The city council in Sevastopol says its members voted to support the Crimean parliament's decision to hold a referendum on whether the region should join Russia or remain part of Ukraine. Via BBC Monitoring


    Russian Black Sea Fleet servicemen have taken control of a a border checkpoint in the port of Krym, which lies on the Kerch Strait separating Ukraine and Russia, Ukraine's Unian news agency reports. (BBC Monitoring).

    Anders, Stockholm, Sweden

    emails: The Ukrainian interim government was voted in by the elected Ukrainian parliament, thus it is, and must be considered, a legal interim government. A referendum about secession is a question for the whole nation, according to the constitution, thus the referendum initiated by the Crimean parliament must be considered illegal, even if it is an autonomous republic. The fact that they are trying to move fast is indicating that they know this.


    The Russian and US foreign ministers met for a second time in as many days in Rome on Thursday to discuss the Ukraine crisis.

    Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) and US Secretary of State John Kerry meet to discuss the Ukraine crisis in Rome March 6, 2014

    We are now bringing to an end our live coverage of Thursday's events in Ukraine, where the Crimean parliament has set up a referendum to endorse joining Russia - a move condemned by Russia, the EU and Ukraine's new interim government. You can follow all the latest news on the BBC News website here.


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