As it happened: EU and US Crimea sanctions

Key Points

  • Crimea's parliament declares the region's independence and formally applies to join Russia
  • The US and the EU impose sanctions on officials from Russia and Ukraine
  • Kiev says it will not recognise the results of Crimea's referendum on Sunday that approved leaving Ukraine
  • Ukrainian parliament approves mobilisation of 40,000 reservists amid "war-time situation"
  • All times GMT

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    Good morning and welcome to our live page where we will keep you up to date with the latest developments following the Crimean parliament's formal declaration of independence from Ukraine.

    It follows Sunday's controversial referendum in which election officials say an overwhelming number of voters in Crimea backed joining Russia.


    The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says the "so-called referendum" was "illegal under the constitution of Ukraine and under international law".

    She says the EU "can't simply sit back and say this situation can be allowed to happen", but that ministers needed to think carefully about what their response should be.

    11:20: Gavin Hewitt, BBC's Europe editor

    tweets: "Merkel's spokesman says Russia widely isolated in recognising Crimean vote but how much pressure is Berlin willing to put on Moscow?"


    As well as the EU, the US has also criticised the referendum.

    The White House described Russia's actions in Crimea as "dangerous and destabilising".


    Ukraine's Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh says Kiev has reached an agreement with Russian troops in Crimea in which they promise to allow the Ukrainians to replenish food supplies at their military bases there, BBC Monitoring reports.

    Mr Tenyukh told the UNIAN news agency the agreement runs out on 21 March.


    More from Ukraine's Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh, who told the UNIAN news agency that Russia had deployed 60,000 troops "against Ukraine", including 21,600 troops in Crimea.


    German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert says: "Russia is isolated to a large degree in its recognition of this so-called referendum" pointing to Saturday's vote at the UN Security Council where 13 countries rejected the referendum as invalid and China abstained.

    11:32: Steve Collins

    emails: I think it's pointless using diplomacy or sanctions against Russia now that the vote has been won. It is terrible to contemplate but the only thing that Putin understands is force as he has used it very effectively in Georgia and now Crimea and it's now time for the West to use the threat of it against him.

    Olexiy Solohubenko, editor at BBC Global News

    tweets: "#Russia demands #Ukraine gives up #Crimea, changes constitution, becomes federal and Russian to become second state language. Tough talking."


    A separatist leader says Crimea has received 295m euros (£246m) in aid from Russia, AFP news agency report.

    Sebastian, London

    emails: Western leaders need to make it clear that while there is a lot of room for diplomatic initiatives and sanctions to work, ultimately, if Russia continues steering the same course, there is a real risk of a return to the cold war between two nuclear superpowers and Putin needs to think very carefully about whether this is something he actually wants for his own personal ambitions and for his people. Because it seems Russia just does not get the stakes involved.

    11:43: Chris Humphries, Berlin

    emails: The Crimean people have decided for themselves to join Russia. Neither Britain the EU nor America has the right to deny them this wish.


    Our colleagues at BBC Monitoring say Russian state news agency RIA Novosti is reporting that a delegation of ministers from Crimea is heading to Moscow to discuss Monday's decision.

    "We are going to Moscow, where we will meet (MPs) in the Russian State Duma, maybe even a joint session will take place, we are currently discussing the matter," the speaker of Crimea's parliament Volodymyr Konstantynov is reported to have said.

    11:46: Alexandra, Sevastopol

    emails: My name is Alexandra, 31 years old, I am citizen of Sevastopol. Yesterday I voted in favour of joining the Crimea to Russia, because it was my desire. I want to live with my native people in my native culture. I believe that it is my right to decide my destiny, and not the right of politicians, like Obama. Among my friends there are a lot of the Crimean Tatars and they think that in Russia it will be better than in Ukraine. They voted in the same way.

    Members of the public walk between a line of Russian and Ukrainian Berkut riot police

    There remains a heavy security presence in the Crimean city of Simferopol.


    Russia has proposed creating an international support group to mediate in the Ukraine crisis but outlined terms that are unlikely to be acceptable for Kiev and the West, Reuters reports.

    Russia's foreign ministry suggests the support group could push for Ukraine to recognise the outcome of the referendum.

    The ministry also says the group should urge Kiev to implement parts of a peace deal concluded by President Viktor Yanukovych and his opponents on 21 February before he fled.

    Pro-Russian Crimeans celebrate

    Here's a photo of pro-Russians in Crimea celebrating last night after referendum results announced by officials showed overwhelming support for the region leaving Ukraine.


    Here's a reminder of the declaration approved by Crimean MPs.

    The region:

    • becomes an independent state and applies formally to join Russia, with some autonomy
    • will adopt the Russian rouble as its currency within a month
    • will move to Moscow time (GMT+4 and two hours ahead of Kiev time) on 30 March
    • will offer Crimean soldiers the chance to join Russian military

    The BBC's Richard Galpin in Moscow says the Russian media reacted with "a real sense of victory" to the results of the referendum.

    One headline said "the Crimea was now returning to Russia", our correspondent says.


    More from our correspondent Richard Galpin in Moscow, who says it has been announced that the upper house of the Russian parliament is to meet on Tuesday morning. The lower house will issue a statement and "critically", President Putin is going to address all the members of parliament on Tuesday afternoon.


    Even before the EU and US implement any possible sanctions the Russian economy is in a "precarious" position the BBC's Richard Galpin says.

    Russia's deputy economic minister made a statement earlier saying that there were signs of "crisis" in the Russian economy, our correspondent says.


    Crimea's deputy prime minister Rustam Temirgaliev says the region has set up a new central bank and is expecting to get $30m (£18m) in support from Russia, the Associated Press news agency reports, citing quotes he gave to the Interfax news agency.


    The parliament in Crimea has voted to take ownership of a key state-run Ukrainian energy company located in the region, our colleagues at BBC Monitoring report.

    A resolution posted on the parliament's website says Chornomornaftohaz, a local oil and gas company, and the Crimean-based assets of Ukrtranshaz, Ukraine's main gas transit company, now belong to "the Republic of Crimea".


    One Crimean MP tells the BBC he hopes the territory will become part of Russia within a month, our correspondent James Reynolds says.

    Ukrainian demonstrators

    Pro-Ukrainian demonstrators attempted to make their point in front of the EU headquarters in Brussels.

    12:37: Kevin Bishop, acting bureau chief BBC Moscow

    tweets: "There's a celebratory concert and demo on Red Square tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6pm. It's called "We're Together"."


    Sir Andrew Wood, the former British ambassador to Russia, tells the BBC News Channel sanctions would make a difference because of their "considerable symbolic importance".

    "One should not assume that President Putin is the only voice that Russia has. There are considerable interests in Russia in a prosperous economic relationship with the rest of Europe, which had been injured by what he has done."

    Max Seddon, BuzzFeed

    tweets: The failure to reach out to Russian-speaking Ukraine has created a huge vacuum for Russian propaganda. It spreads like wildfire in Crimea.


    More from Sir Andrew Wood, the former British ambassador to Russia: "I do see a need for the West as a whole to be speaking to the whole of Russia, not just to Putin whose purpose is to destabilise Ukraine with the surely possible objective of bringing it fully under his control again."

    12:47: Myroslava Petsa, 5Channel

    tweets: Russia's initiative includes organising a support group for Ukraine. Moscow's desperate in face of looming sanctions

    12:50: Breaking News

    BBC Europe correspondent Matthew Price says that following a meeting of EU foreign ministers a source confirmed that travel bans and asset freezes have been agreed against 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine.

    12:53: Sophia Procyk, Chinnor, Oxfordshire

    emails: The referendum is illegal in the Ukrainian and International laws. Even though my grandad lives in western Ukraine, he is scared that the Russians will take over the whole of Ukraine. He does not want to live back in the Russian Federation. I hope Russia sees sense and moves out of Crimea.

    12:54: Steve Rosenberg, BBC Moscow correspondent
    Riot police

    tweets: "Now riot police have found a bench to watch that martial arts film in lobby of the regional admin building. #Donetsk"

    12:57: Kal-El, The Hobbing Post

    tweets: There are over 31 towns/cities adjoining the Russian border. If events in #Crimea stand, it'll set off an uncontrollable spiral of events

    12:57: Steve Rosenberg, BBC Moscow correspondent

    tweets: "Behind the gates of the #Donetsk regional admin building. Small protest on the square outside."


    More from the BBC's Matthew Price on the decision to impose travel bans and asset freezes on 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine. He says the measures will come into effect in the coming hours and at the latest by Tuesday morning.

    He says the list of names will not be made public until the measures are in effect.


    EU foreign ministers were considering sanctions against more than 100 political and military officials the EU judges have been trying to encourage the breakaway of Crimea from the rest of Ukraine, the BBC's Matthew Price says.

    A source said it was hoped the measures would encourage Russia to think about the consequences of its actions.


    Here's our latest story on those EU sanctions imposed over Crimea.


    BBC Monitoring reports that the Ukrainian foreign ministry has rejected Russia's suggestions for ending the crisis.

    Ministry spokesman Yevhen Perebiynis was quoted by Interfax-Ukraine news agency as saying: "The Russian foreign ministry's statement looks like an ultimatum. The position contained in it is totally unacceptable for Ukraine."

    The Russian foreign ministry had earlier called for the US and EU to recognise Crimea's right to decide its future and for the establishment of a support group.


    emails: Hello, I live in Sevastopol, Crimea. I want to assure the citizens of Europe that the holding of a referendum in Crimea 16.03.2014 was absolutely transparent and honest. It may seem that all intimidated in the Crimea, but it is not so! Crimeans long dreamed reunited with their homeland - Russia!

    Oleg Oleksiy, London

    emails: Those who see the referendum as legitimate and its result as a true reflection of people of Crimea opinion must think again. Did the ethnic Ukrainians and Tatars vote? Do all ethnic Russian agree with the idea of leaving Ukraine? Weren't pro-Ukrainian demonstrators intimidated? Did the presence of Russian occupation troops have an impact, not the least psychological? Were international observes allowed into Crimea? And if not, why?

    An elderly woman speaks to a Russian military man outside a Ukrainian military base on March 17, 2014 A woman speaks to a Russian soldier outside a Ukrainian military base in Simferopol

    Crimea, the semi-autonomous region that is the focus of the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War, has a population of just two million people. This BBC profile goes into the region's history.


    There has not yet been a Russian response to news of the EU sanctions on 21 officials from Russia and Ukraine.

    Olexiy Solohubenko, editor at BBC Global News

    tweets: #Crimea expropriates Ukrainian oil and gas companies on land and off shore and establishes maritime zone. No word of compensation.

    Mark Urban, BBC Newsnight diplomatic and defence editor

    tweets: So EU ltd sanctions are on, as expected, & Putin has hinted that Russia may be out of G8. Time for EU & US to decide whether to go further?


    Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsya has welcomed the EU's decision to impose sanctions on 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials. "I think it's a step forward in mobilising the international community and confronting the Russian decision to violate international order and international laws. Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine."

    13:39: Breaking News

    US President Barack Obama has announced a freeze of assets of Russian and Ukrainian officials involved in Moscow's incursion into Crimea. His move follows the EU's announcement to impose travel bans and asset freezes on 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials following the referendum in Crimea.


    The seven officials subject to US sanctions include: Sergei Aksyonov, the acting leader of Crimea; Dmitry Rogozin, a Russian deputy prime minister; and Valentina Matviyenko, head of the upper house of the Russian parliament.

    Richard Galpin, BBC world affairs correspondent

    tweets: #Ukraine #Russia story developing fast. #Putin address to all members of parliament in #Kremlin Tuesday, today may meet #Crimea leaders.


    The US has said it is imposing sanctions on a total of 11 people. Seven of those are Russian government officials - including aides to Russian President Putin, Vladislov Surkov and Sergei Glazyev - as well as Crimea-based separatist leader Vladimir Konstantinov and ousted Ukrainan President Viktor Yanukovych.


    The White House has said in a statement: "Today's actions send a strong message to the Russian government that there are consequences for their actions that violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including their actions supporting the illegal referendum for Crimean separation."


    More from the White House statement: "The United States, together with international partners, will continue to stand by the Ukrainian government to ensure that costs are imposed on Crimean separatists and their Russian backers."


    The White House adds in its statement: "Today's actions also serve as notice to Russia that unless it abides by its international obligations and returns its military forces to their original bases and respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the United States is prepared to take additional steps to impose further political and economic costs."


    A senior US official says there is "concrete evidence" some ballots in Sunday's referendum arrived "pre-marked" in many cities and that there were other anomalies in voting, Reuters news agency reports.

    Elena, Sevastopol

    emails: Nobody tried to take my vote. Most of the people I know, friends and family, gave their voice with a full heart and were very happy to be able to vote... In my city, most of the people that were born here or live here feel like they are Russian. We live like Russians, we think and talk in Russian... When my friends from all over the EU ask me where I am from, I'll answer that I am from Sevastopol and that I'm Russian. Everybody is waiting to see what Russia will do now.


    A senior US official says Russian President Vladimir Putin was not targeted for sanctions because it would be "highly unusual and rather extraordinary" for a head of state to be subject to sanctions, Reuters reports.

    A pro-Russian activist holds a flag during a rally as police forces stand guard A pro-Russia activist holds a flag during a rally in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, as police stand guard outside the regional state administration building

    Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin - one of those targeted by US sanctions - said the measures would not affect those without assets abroad, Reuters reports. "Comrade Obama, and what will you do with those who have neither accounts nor property abroad? Or didn't you think of that?" he said on Twitter.


    As well as imposing sanctions on officials, the EU has also showed its support for Ukraine by announcing it would temporarily remove customs duties on Ukrainian exports to the EU.


    US President Barack Obama will make a statement on Ukraine at 14:45 GMT, the White House says.


    The US sanctions will not affect Crimea's drive to join Russia, Crimea's First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirgaliyev is quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.


    Commentators in newspapers throughout Europe have warned of the long-term repercussions of the Crimean referendum. Jacques Schuster, writing in the Berlin-based newspaper Die Welt, says a military response can no longer be entirely ruled out.

    A man waves Russian flags in Simferopol"s Lenin Square Pro-Russia supporters march in Simferopol's Lenin Square

    Our main story summarises all of the developments so far on Monday.


    US President Obama has started speaking at a White House briefing and says the "future of Ukraine must be decided by the people of Ukraine".


    Mr Obama says he told Russian President Putin the referendum would not be recognised.


    Mr Obama says the US will impose further sanctions if Russia continues to interfere in Ukraine.


    Mr Obama says the international community "will continue to stand together" to support Ukraine.


    The US president says the US will "stand firm" in its "unwavering support" for Ukraine.

    Istok, Zaporozhye

    emails: I am Ukrainian, I live in Zaporozhye, I speak Russian, but I also know Ukrainian and I love my country. In our district of the city, there are eight Russian schools, and only two Ukrainian, so you can see, how things are in favour of the Russians here. I know lots of people in Crimea who don't want to live in Russia... I will give my life for Ukraine. Freedom or Death, there is no other choice.


    More from President Obama's briefing at the White House: "We're continuing our close consultations with our European partners who today in Brussels moved ahead with their own sanctions against Russia.


    Mr Obama adds: "Tonight Vice-President [Joseph] Biden departs for Europe where he will meet with the leaders of our Nato allies Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and I'll be travelling to Europe next week.

    "Our message will be clear: as Nato allies, we have a solemn commitment to our collective defence and we will uphold this commitment."


    Mr Obama said the US would "continue to make clear to Russia that further provocations will achieve nothing except to further isolate Russia and diminish its place in the world".


    "Continued Russian military intervention in Ukraine will only deepen Russia's diplomatic isolation," Mr Obama continued.


    Mr Obama said he still believed there was a way of resolving the situation diplomatically: "That includes Russia pulling its forces in Crimea back to their bases, supporting the deployment of additional international monitors in Ukraine and engaging in dialogue with the Ukrainian government."

    Ashot Gabrelyanov, head of pro-Kremlin LifeNews TV

    tweets: These sanctions by America do not bite the Russian bear, but tickle him to hysterical laughter.

    Alexei Navalny, Russian opposition leader

    tweets: The list of seven people under sanctions is laughable, of course. Obama only made our crooks laugh and encouraged them

    Olexiy Solohubenko, editor at BBC Global News

    tweets: #Ukraine recalls ambassador to #Russia Volodymyr Yelchenko for consultations over #Crimea. Russian ambo Zurabov was recalled a while ago


    UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says of the EU sanctions imposed on Russian and Ukrainian officials: "This is not a list that is set in stone for the future."


    Mr Hague adds: "It is possible to add other figures in the future, depending on how Russia reacts to the referendum in Crimea which has been a mockery of any real democracy, and how they are reacting to the possibility of discussions and direct negotiations with Ukraine over the coming days, and it goes along with the other measures that we have taken."


    The Crimea referendum corrects a historical mistake and should not spark sanctions against Russia, ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has told Interfax news agency, as seen by BBC Monitoring: "Crimea was previously attached to Ukraine under Soviet laws, that is, under the [Communist] party's laws and without asking the people. But now the same people have righted that mistake. This is to be welcomed."


    Mr Gorbachev adds sanctions should only be imposed for the most serious of reasons and should have the UN's support: "The expression of the popular will in Crimea and the possible acceptance as part of Russia are not such a reason."


    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton tells a news conference in Brussels that the EU will "provide strong financial support for [the] economic and financial stabilisation" of Ukraine.


    Baroness Ashton adds that the EU will also give Ukraine help with "securing its energy supply".


    In response to a question from a journalist about how tough the EU's sanctions were in comparison to the US, Baroness Ashton says the EU has taken its decision "based on the best information and work that we've done to establish what we believe is the right approach for the European Union".


    Baroness Ashton says she hopes there will be a "de-escalation" and "the chance for Ukraine to be a country which has territorial integrity".


    "Ukraine needs a strong and good relationship with Russia," Baroness Ashton tells reporters. "We will do whatever we can to try and help the kind of dialogue that I think must happen in order to de-escalate the situation and help the people of Ukraine move forward."

    Mileala, Sevastopol

    emails: Members of my family visited two precincts for voting in Sevastopol yesterday. In the evening when people found out the result of referendum there were celebrations all over the city. Finally we have returned home. Russia is our home; the place where our souls were all these years!!


    Here's the full White House statement about the sanctions it is imposing on 11 Russian and Ukrainian officials.


    Russian MP Yelena Mizulina, newly under US sanctions, says in a news conference: "They have stooped to a very low personal level. A country as strong as that should be above that."


    "I haven't got any assets or property abroad. But this is, of course, unpleasant." Ms Mizulina says, according to Interfax news agency.

    Yelena Mizulina, file image

    We now have a video of President Obama's White House briefing, in which he outlined the sanctions the US is imposing against officials in Russia and Ukraine.

    President Obama
    Andras, Prague

    emails: I really think that the peoples opinion has to be respected in this matter. If the EU and US will decide to put restrictions on anybody, they should be put on the people that forcibly (without a democratic vote) seized power in Ukraine.


    Tempers are still frayed in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk. Crowds have gathered for the last few days to demand a vote to secede along with Crimea.

    Pro-Russian crowds in Donetsk

    A spokesman for UK leader David Cameron says the newly announced sanctions are "an important statement of the international community's response to the situation in Ukraine and Crimea".


    Mr Cameron's spokesman says Russia and Ukraine need to talk to each other, adding: "The point is that we are saying very clearly to the Russian government that they should not escalate, they should seek to de-escalate."


    UN chief Ban Ki-moon's spokesman says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" that the Crimea referendum will exacerbate the "complex and tense situation".


    Mr Ban "condemns the violence which occurred over the weekend in Eastern Ukraine and which resulted in injuries and loss of life on all sides".


    For those of you wanting a reminder of how Ukraine got into this situation, we've just updated our crisis timeline.


    Presidential hopeful Vitali Klitschko gave a news conference earlier where he warned that Crimean Tatars face "a risk of ethnic cleansing".

    Vitali Klitschko, 17 March
    Helen, Crimea

    emails: My grandmother is 92 and she is very happy that we are again living in Russia. She remembers the day that Crimea was given to Ukraine in 1954, she says now all is well again; Crimea is Russian.


    The BBC's Europe editor Gavin Hewitt outlines the test Europe faces over Ukraine in the coming week.


    Turkey, which has linguistic and ethnic ties to Crimea's Tatar population, says it is concerned about a domino effect in the region if Crimea is allowed to secede.


    "If this is allowed once, the whole region will fall into instability," said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, citing "frozen crises" in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova.


    Crimea came under the control of armed men in late February. The Kremlin officially denies the men, who wear uniforms but no insignia, are Russian soldiers. They continue to blockade Ukrainian military bases in the region.

    Armed soldiers without identifying insignia keep guard outside of a Ukrainian military base in the town of Perevevalne near the Crimean city of Simferopol on March 17

    In a televised address to the nation, Ukrainian interim President Olexander Turchynov says he is ready for talks, but insists he "will never be reconciled with the annexation of our territory".

    Olexander Turchynov, file image

    Mr Turchynov says any actions inciting mass disorder in Ukraine will be viewed as "abetting the military aggressor and a crime against the state".


    Some US commentators are despairing of Mr Obama's tactics in Ukraine. "What is our foreign policy? Disliking global warming?" concludes an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal.


    Russia's deputy foreign minister is quoted by Ria-Novosti news agency as saying the sanctions show that the US and EU have a "pathological inability to accept reality".


    Vladimir Putin is not expected to speak on the Crimea issue until Tuesday morning, when he is due to address parliament.


    Correspondents say the Kremlin may be planning to fast-track the annexation by officially recognising Crimea's independence, and then drafting a treaty to formalise its incorporation into Russia.


    To sum up the day's main events: The US and EU put sanctions on more than 20 Russians and Ukrainians who they linked to Crimea's push for secession. Barack Obama warned Moscow that further intervention would leave it more isolated.


    Statues of Soviet leader Lenin were pulled down in Kiev, but in Crimea's capital Simferopol, he still looms large.

    A statue of Vladimir Lenin on March 17 in Simferopol

    Experts are suggesting that the people targeted by the EU's sanctions are much less significant players than those on the US list.


    We're finishing our live coverage of the crisis in Ukraine for the day. You can carry on following all the latest developments on our main news pages.


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