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Crimea referendum 'illegal': Council of Europe panel

Crimea's referendum to join Russia was "illegal", an advisory body of the pro-democracy Council of Europe said Friday as East-West tensions mounted over Moscow's annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula. The Council of Europe's so-called Venice Commission which is made up of independent constitutional experts said Crimea's vote to secede was undemocratic and violated Ukraine's constitution.

Ukraine crisis shakes up geopolitical ties

The deepening crisis in Ukraine is likely to have a lasting impact on international relations, with a newly-assertive Russia forcing the United States and the EU to take a hard look at where they stand, analysts say. Russia under President Vladimir Putin has played its hand well in Ukraine, smoothly taking Crimea from what was a former Soviet republic despite dire warnings of sanctions and worse from Washington and Brussels.

Ukraine crisis shakes up geopolitical ties

The deepening crisis in Ukraine is likely to have a lasting impact on international relations, with a newly-assertive Russia forcing the United States and the EU to take a hard look at where they stand, analysts say. Russia under President Vladimir Putin has played its hand well in Ukraine, smoothly taking Crimea from its Cold War satellite despite dire warnings of sanctions and worse from Washington and Brussels.

Ukraine detains energy pointman of ousted leader

Ukrainian police on Friday detained the powerful head of the Naftogaz state energy company on suspicion of embezzling at least $4 billion (2.9 billion euros) during the rule of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych. Yevgen Bakulin's arrest came as the country's new Western-backed leaders seek to build credibility with Ukrainians who have lost faith in government after years of corruption left the ex-Soviet state mired in debt with one of the slowest growth rates in the emerging world.

Russian passports -- like it or not -- for new Crimea

A young woman opens her office door and is immediately assailed with questions from 40 people trying to crowd in: Crimeans clamouring -- some willingly, others obliged -- to obtain Russian passports. The passport office worker hands out forms with a list of required documents: a birth certificate, the old Ukrainian passport, a photo and 200 Russian rubles (four euros, $5) -- Crimea's new second currency.

Ukraine army to respond if Russia tries to annex east

Ukraine will respond with military action if Russia attempts to annex the country's mainly Russian-speaking eastern regions, interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on Thursday. "I want to officially warn Russia: we will respond firmly, including through military means, against any attempt to seize Ukraine, to cross borders, or annex eastern or other regions by Russian troops," Yatsenyuk was quoted as saying in Brussels on the government website. neo/gmo/dv/cc

IMF reports 'significant progress' in Ukraine talks

The International Monetary Fund said Thursday that "significant progress" had been made in talks with Ukraine's new Western-backed government over the resumption of a support programme for the crisis-hit ex-Soviet state. "The mission has made significant progress in discussing with the Ukrainian authorities the policies to put the country on the path of economic reform, sound governance, and sustainable growth while protecting the poor and vulnerable," IMF mission chief Nikolai Georgiyev said in a statement.

Ukrainian First Deputy PM, Acting defense minister to fly to Crimea

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk issued an order on Wednesday for the first deputy prime minister and the acting defense minister to fly to Crimea to "resolve the situation" in the region now controlled by Russian forces. Ostap Semerak, a senior minister, told a meeting of the cabinet that Vitaly Yarema and Ihor Tenyukh would be charged with "ensuring the conflict does not become military in nature". He said the two men had just left the meeting.

Putin defies West with Crimea 'land grab'

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a treaty claiming the Black Sea region of Crimea as Russian territory as Ukraine warned the showdown had entered a "military stage" after soldiers were killed on both sides. The treaty signing was conducted at lightning speed in the Kremlin in a defiant expansion of Russia's post-Soviet borders that has plunged relations with the West to a new post-Cold War low. The move, less than three weeks after pro-Moscow troops first seized control of the strategic peninsula, triggered furious condemnation from Western leaders.

Putin defies West with Crimea 'land grab'

President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a treaty claiming the Black Sea region of Crimea as Russian territory as Ukraine warned the showdown had entered a "military stage" with the killing of one of its soldiers on the peninsula. The treaty signing was conducted at lightning speed in the Kremlin in a defiant expansion of Russia's post-Soviet borders that has plunged relations with the West to a new post-Cold War low.
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