DIPLOMATIC EXIT FOR UKRAINE? TALKS, $15B IN EU AID
PARIS (AP) -- The building blocks of a possible diplomatic solution in Ukraine emerged Wednesday as top Russian and Western officials tried to defuse one of Europe's worst crises since the Cold War. The European Union prepared a $15 billion aid package for Ukraine, and European and Ukrainian diplomats outlined ways that all sides could step back from the brink of a new global conflict.
Yet it all hinges on Russia, whose troops remain on Ukraine's strategic Crimean peninsula and which sees Ukraine as a crucial part of its geopolitical backyard. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov refused to meet his Ukrainian counterpart in a whirlwind day of talks in Paris on Wednesday, according to a top French diplomat.
PUTIN: RUSSIA HAS RIGHT TO USE FORCE IN UKRAINE
MOSCOW (AP) -- Accusing the West of encouraging an "unconstitutional coup" in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Moscow reserves the right to use its military to protect Russians there but voiced hope it won't need to do so. The Russian leader's first comments on Ukraine since its fugitive president fled to Russia came just as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Kiev to meet with Ukraine's new government.
Putin declared that Western actions were driving Ukraine into anarchy and warned that any sanctions the West places on Russia for its actions in Ukraine will backfire. Both the U.S. and the 28-nation European Union have raised the possibility of sanctions against Russia.
A COLD WAR REPRISE AS US SEEKS MOSCOW'S ISOLATION
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a sudden reprise of Cold War sensibilities, the U.S. and its allies are weighing sanctions on Moscow and whether to bolster defenses in Europe in response to Russia's military advances on Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry, soon on his way to Ukraine's capital, said world leaders "are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia with respect to this invasion."
Knife-wielding mob kills 27 at China train station
At least 27 people were killed and 109 wounded when a group of people armed with knives stormed a railway station in the southwest Chinese city of Kunming, authorities said, according to state news agency Xinhua.
It was an organized, premeditated terrorist attack, authorities told the news agency. No motive has been provided.
Yang Haifei, a resident of Yunnan, told Xinhua he was buying a ticket when a group of people, most of them in black, rushed into the station and started attacking others.
UKRAINE SAYS RUSSIAN TRIES TO SEIZE AIRPORTS, BASE
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) -- Ukraine accused Russia of a "military invasion and occupation" on Friday, saying Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports on its strategic Crimea peninsula. Russia kept silent on the accusations, as the crisis deepened between two of Europe's largest countries.
RUSSIA REPORTEDLY SHELTERING UKRAINE'S PRESIDENT
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Russia scrambled fighter jets to patrol its border and reportedly gave shelter to Ukraine's fugitive president as pro-Russian gunmen stormed offices of Ukraine's strategic region, deepening the crisis for the new Ukrainian government even as it was being formed.
US warns Russia against military intervention in Ukraine
WASHINGTON – The United States on Wednesday warned Russia against a military intervention in Ukraine, saying such a move would be a "grave mistake," as troops in western Russia were placed on high alert for massive new war games in the area, including near the Russian-Ukrainian border.
In delivering the blunt message, Secretary of State John Kerry also announced that the Obama administration was planning $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine and would consider additional direct assistance for the former Soviet republic following unrest that led to the ouster of its Russian-backed president.
North Korean ship enters South Korean waters, Seoul says
SEOUL – South Korea said Tuesday a North Korean warship strayed into South Korean waters late Monday, in the first reported maritime incursion of 2014.
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said a 420 metric-ton vessel made three cross-border trips during the night and left after 2 a.m. without responding to warnings given by the South's navy. There wasn't an exchange of fire.
US, South Korea begin joint military drills against backdrop of family reunions
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – A year ago, North Korea vowed nuclear attacks to retaliate for U.S.-South Korean war games. But the start Monday of this year's joint military drills comes as Pyongyang allows wrenching reunions of elderly Koreans separated since the Korean War.
As always with the rival Koreas, cold political calculations loom behind the scenes of pure emotion.
Opposition leaders sign deal with president to end crisis in Ukraine
Shots rang out and tension remained high in the streets of Kiev Friday, as Ukrainian protest leaders signed a deal with Ukraine's president to defuse a political crisis that has left scores dead and hundreds injured.
The two sides signed an agreement after hours of European-led negotiations. The deal is a "good compromise for Ukraine. Gives peace a chance. Opens the way for reform and to Europe. Poland and EU support it,'' European Union mediator, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, said in a Twitter post Friday. Two opposition spokeswomen said the deal was signed in the Ukrainian president's office, but had no further details.
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