1. Situation in Crimea
Russian troops continue to blockade Ukrainian military bases and headquarters in Crimea. An army artillery base in Yevpatoria has reportedly been issued an ultimatum by the Council of Ministers of Crimea to turn over its weapons to the special unit of the Russian Black Sea fleet that is “guarding” the base by 10pm Ukraine time, March 10. An army hospital in Simferopol was seized by armed men, supposedly part of ‘Crimean self-defence forces’. The self-declared head of the Crimean Council of Ministers A. Asksyonov announced that the Crimean parliament will vote tomorrow on joining Crimea to the ruble zone. According to reports, all Ukrainian television stations in Simferopol and Yalta have been turned off and stations from the Russian Federation are broadcasting on their frequencies. On a visit to Kharkiv, UDAR leader Vitaliy Klitchko said that Ukraine’s Parliament will vote on dissolving the Crimean parliament this week. The OSCE observer group that was to be in Crimea to analyze the situation has still not been allowed to enter Crimea.
2. Ukraine Border Service strengthens security
The Ukraine Border Service strengthened security on the Belarusian and Moldovan borders. The Border Service also announced that it refused entry to 577 citizens of the Russian Federation who tried to enter Ukraine on March 9-10, because “most of them could not explain the reason for their trip to Ukraine, had symbols of a provocative character or implements that could be used to cause bodily harm.” There is a high likelihood that many of the provocations of the last weeks in eastern Ukrainian oblasts Luhansk, Donetsk and Kharkiv were in fact initiated by citizens of the Russian Federation sent to Ukraine for the express purpose of causing unrest and destabilization in these eastern provinces.
3. Ukraine military engages in exercises
The acting Minister of Defense of Ukraine I. Tenyukh announced that Ukraine’s military units engaged in exercises to inspect their readiness. Tenyukh also stated that while there has been no general mobilization announced, there are long lines in recruitment centers as people are volunteering for military service to defend their country. PM A. Yatseniuk signed a government order that ensures additional payment to the armed forces, internal army, and Border Service personnel serving in Crimea. The order ensures 125.8 million Hryvnia in additional funding.
4. Cameron calls what happened in Ukraine ‘completely indefensible’
Speaking in the UK parliament today, PM Cameron called what happened in Ukraine ‘completely indefensible.’ He also said the ‘referendum’ in Crimea is illegal and that the EU has agreed on a three-step approach to the Russian Federation to implement some measures now; asset freezes and travel bans if Russia does not enter talks; and far-reaching consequences if Russia intervenes further. He also stated that there has been a review of British arms exports to Russia. German Foreign Minister Steinmeier also stated that if the Russian Federation does not agree to talks Monday or Tuesday, the EU will look to impose further sanctions against Russian officials.
5. Venice Commission to prepare opinion on ‘Referendum’
The Venice Commission will prepare two opinions – on the compatibility with constitutional principles on the referendum in Crimea, and on the compatibility with international law of the draft Federal Constitutional Law of the Russian Federation on “Amending the Federal Constitutional Law on the procedure of admission to the Russian Federation and creation of a new subject of the Russian Federation and its composition.” The opinions will be discussed at the Plenary Session of the Venice Commission on 21-22 March.