RUSSIAN PM MEDVEDEV MAKES SURPRISE VISIT TO CRIMEA
SIMFEROPOL, Crimea (AP) -- On a surprise visit Monday to Crimea, Russia's prime minister promised to quickly pour funds into the newly annexed peninsula so residents see positive changes after the Russian takeover.
Dmitry Medvedev, who led a delegation of Cabinet ministers to Crimea, pledged that Russia will quickly boost salaries and pensions there and pour in resources to improve education, health care and local infrastructure. A special government ministry has been created to oversee Crimea's development.
Russian troops said to be hiding positions, creating supply lines near Ukraine border
The United Nations Security Council will meet Friday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine as concerns mount over new details about Russia's military buildup on the Ukrainian border, including Moscow's reported efforts to camouflage troops and equipment.
The council is expected to meet privately Friday afternoon, a day after the U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution affirming Ukraine's territorial integrity and deeming the referendum that led to Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula illegal.
IMF OFFERS UKRAINE UP TO $18 BILLION IN LOANS
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- The International Monetary Fund pledged up to $18 billion in loans Thursday to prop up Ukraine's teetering economy, and the prime minister warned that everyone is going to feel some pain from the necessary financial reforms ahead.
Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko announced that she will run for president in the vote set for May 25. Tymoshenko, who was released from jail last month following the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych, returns as one of the most polarizing figures in Ukraine's political scene.
SENATE ON TRACK TO PASS UKRAINE AID BILL
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Senate is on track to approve sanctions against Russia and aid for Ukraine after Democrats withdrew a provision that was blocking Congress from issuing a sharp response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's military intervention in Crimea.
A Senate vote was set for Thursday. The House Foreign Affairs Committee has approved its version of the measure, but it was unclear whether a final bill could be sent to President Barack Obama before the end of the week.
JUSTICES TACKLE HEALTH LAW BIRTH CONTROL COVERAGE
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court justices are weighing whether corporations have religious rights that exempt them from part of the new health care law that requires coverage of birth control for employees at no extra charge.
The case being argued at the Supreme Court on Tuesday involves family-owned companies that provide health insurance to their employees, but object to covering certain methods of birth control that they say can work after conception, in violation of their religious beliefs.
MALAYSIA: MISSING FLIGHT CRASHED IN INDIAN OCEAN
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- A new analysis of satellite data indicates the missing Malaysia Airlines plane crashed into a remote corner of the Indian Ocean, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said Monday.
The news is a major breakthrough in the unprecedented two-week struggle to find out what happened to Flight 370, which disappeared shortly after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew aboard on March 8.
PUTIN FORMALLY GETS CRIMEA; UKRAINE, EU SIGN DEAL
MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin completed his annexation of Crimea on Friday, signing the Black Sea peninsula into Russia just as Ukraine itself sealed a deal pulling the country closer into Europe's orbit.
Putin said he saw no need to further retaliate against U.S. sanctions, a newly conciliatory tone apparently aiming to contain one of the worst crises in Russia's relations with the West since the Cold War. His spokesman, however, later kept the Kremlin's warning open that it could consider various options.
Tit for Tat: Russia hits US officials with sanctions, as Obama expands penalties
The Russian government slapped sanctions on top U.S. officials on Thursday, moments after President Obama imposed penalties on 20 Russians inside and outside the government -- as diplomatic efforts over Ukraine unraveled into a long-distance tit for tat.
The newest sanctions would bar nine American officials from entering Russia. The list includes House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
WARNING RUSSIA, BIDEN SAYS US WILL DEFEND ALLIES
VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) -- Issuing an outright warning to Moscow, Vice President Joe Biden declared Wednesday the United States will respond to any aggression against its NATO allies, as Russia's neighbors looked warily to the escalating crisis in nearby Ukraine.
Standing side by side with a pair of Baltic leaders in Vilnius, Lithuania, Biden said the U.S. was "absolutely committed" to defending its allies, adding that President Barack Obama plans to seek concrete commitments from NATO members to ensure the alliance can safeguard its collective security.
BIDEN SAYS MORE SANCTIONS COMING FOR RUSSIA
WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Denouncing Russia's actions in Crimea as nothing more than a "land grab," Vice President Joe Biden warned Russia on Tuesday that the U.S. and Europe will impose further sanctions as Moscow seeks to annex the Ukrainian territory.
Meeting with anxious European leaders in neighboring Poland, Biden said the world sees through Russia's actions. He said virtually the entire world rejects the referendum in Crimea that cleared the way for Russia to annex the peninsula in Ukraine.
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