Russia Not Quite Recognizing Secession Vote, At Least Not Yet: Live Updates On The Crisis

Monday, May 12, 4:30 PM

Russia is not yet pulling another Crimea in eastern Ukraine, even though separatists have declared victory in two cities following a Sunday vote. Russia's response to the votes is paramount, because pretty much everyone else has already said the vote was illegal and probably rigged, including the U.S. In Donetsk, some separatists were even quoted by Russian news media saying they wanted to join up with Russia, according to the Guardian. Results there showed 90 percent in favor of secession, which is a nice round number.

Here's what Russia had to say about the vote. They're supportive, but they're not calling it legitimate. At least not yet. This translation is from ITAR-TASS.

Moscow respects the expression of will of the population of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and proceeds on the basis that the implementation of the results of the referendums will be carried out in a civilized way, without any relapse of violence, through dialogue between representatives of Kiev, Donetsk and Luhansk.

Sunday, May 10, 1:00 PM

Acting Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov released a statement on Saturday ahead of two regional secession votes, warning against "complete destruction." On Sunday, the Donetsk and Luhansk regions will both hold referenda – conducted by pro-Russian activists – on whether to declare sovereignty. Neither Ukrainian officials nor other Western countries view the votes as legitimate.

In Saturday's comments, Turchynov wrote that supporters of independence "don't understand that this would be a complete destruction of the economy, social programs and general life for the majority of the population. ... This is a step into the abyss for the regions." Supporters claim that unlike Crimea, the regions will wait until later to decide whether sovereignty will mean total independence, remaining in Ukraine with expanded powers, or absorption by Russia. Crimea was absorbed just days after it declared independence in March.

Wednesday, May 7, 11:00 AM

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he'd withdrawn 40,000 troops from the border with Ukraine, a major sticking point in the crisis. Putin also asked separatists aligned with the Russian government to hold off on a referendum originally planned for May 11. He made the remarks after a meeting with Didier Burkhalter, Switzerland's president and the head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

We were told constantly about concerns over our troops near the Ukrainian border. We have pulled them back. Today they are not at the Ukrainian border but in places of regular exercises, at training grounds.

Friday, May 2, 6:10 PM

At least 31 people were killed in southern Ukraine when a Trade Union building was set aflame, the Ukraine Interior Ministry said, making Friday the deadliest day in the conflict since 70 protesters were killed in Independence Square back in February. The blaze erupted following clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian activists in the city of Odessa, during which protesters exchanged Molotov cocktails and smoke grenades.

The Odessa city website pegs the death toll a bit higher, at 41, and adds that 123 people were injured. The Interior Ministry said most of the victims died from smoke inhalation, although some also died trying to escape from the burning building. Most of the victims were reportedly pro-Russians, who had been using the Trade Union building as a headquarters of operations.

It’s unclear how the fire was started, or if one faction was primarily responsible.

Friday, May 2, 9:20 AM

Two Ukraine government helicopters were shot down Friday in an attempt by the country to reclaim Slovyansk, where pro-Russia militants have a tight foothold. Ukraine said it was launching the "active phase" of its attempt to get control of the city, which has a population of 130,000. Two Ukrainian soldiers died in the militants' attack on the helicopters.

In response, Russia issued strong language condemning Ukraine's attack and warning the country against continuing its attempt to reclaim the town. It also suggested Ukraine's actions invalidated a peace agreement reached between parties last month.

The Kiev regime ordered combat aircraft to fire at civilian towns and villages, launching a "punitive operation" and effectively destroying all hope for the viability of the Geneva agreements.

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Ukraine to give up and withdraw its military in the area. That same day, Ukraine reinstated conscription.

Thursday, May 1, 5:20 PM

Ukraine has officially reinstated conscription in response to ongoing conflict with Russia. The conscription requirement was originally in place until October 2013, when the military was roughly 40 percent conscripts and 60 percent volunteers. A government statement suggested conscription was being reinstated “given the deteriorating situation in the east and the south … the rising force of armed pro-Russian units and the taking of public administration buildings … which threaten territorial integrity,” according to a BBC translation.

That’s in stark contrast to the October 2013 government statement rescinding mandatory military service, issued prior to the crisis with Russia under an earlier president, Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country amid protests in February. When he ended conscription, Yanukovych was a much more optimistic man.

Today is the first day of the last military conscription. I think this year will be the last one. 2014 is the beginning of the development of modern Ukrainian army on a contractual basis.

Thursday, May 1, 3:40 PM

On Monday, NATO said it will begin formally treating Moscow as an adversary, not an ally, according to the Associated Press. Alexander Vershbow, the deputy secretary-general of the organization, didn't mince words about the distinction despite NATO's 20 years of trying to work with Russia to maintain peace with the country.

Clearly the Russians have declared NATO as an adversary, so we have to begin to view Russia no longer as a partner but as more of an adversary than a partner.

Russian President Vladimir Putin escalated the conflict on Thursday by demanding that Ukraine remove its military from southeastern parts of its country. Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Ukraine needed to remove the military in order to dial down the tension with pro-Russian militants — some of whom are almost certainly agents of the Russian government — who have taken over government buildings there.

Sunday, April 27, 10:35AM

Eight European military observers captured by pro-Russian activists in eastern Ukraine appeared in public on Sunday to deny allegations of mistreatment. “Our presence here in Slovyansk is for sure a political instrument for the decision makers here in the region and the possibility to use it for negotiations,” German Col. Axel Schneider said on behalf of the group. "It’s logical in the eyes of Mayor Ponomarev that he can use us to present his positions."

The observers were captured on Friday on charges of spying for NATO. During the appearance Schneider stressed that they are on a diplomatic mission under Europe's Organization of Security and Cooperation. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is working to free the observers, who claim they have not been harmed. "The mayor of this city granted us his protection and he regarded us as his guests." Schneider said Sunday. "I can tell you that the word of the mayor is a word of honor. We have not been touched."

Saturday, April 26, 10:15AM

Leaders of the G7 — the U.S., Canada, Britain, France, Gernamy, Italy and Japan— announced new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine on Saturday, as violence continues to rock the unstable region. The punitive measure comes in response to Russia's failure to comply with the international Geneva accord of April 17th, which called for a resolution to the Ukraine crisis.

"Russia has taken no concrete actions in support of the Geneva accord. It has not publicly supported the accord, nor condemned the acts of pro-separatists seeking to destabilize Ukraine, nor called on armed militants to leave peacefully the government buildings they've occupied and put down their arms. Instead, it has continued to escalate tensions by increasingly concerning rhetoric and ongoing threatening military maneuvers on Ukraine's border," a statement from the White House reads.

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Thursday, April 24, 10:00AM

Ukrainian government troops killed at least two militants in clashes with pro-Russian separatists Thursday as they move into the country’s eastern region. Violence is coming to a tipping point as Ukraine’s forces seize opposition checkpoints and set up roadblocks in an attempt to regain control.

In response to Kiev's actions, Russian President Vladimir issued a warning for Ukraine, saying force against civilians “is a very serious crime,” and there would be “consequences,” the BBC reports. With Ukraine’s troops moving into Slavyansk and Donetsk, the chances of Russia countering the attacks are increasing in likelihood. Russia’s defense minister also announced new military exercises on their borders in response to Thursday's violence and the increasing NATO troops in Poland.

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Wednesday, April 23, 4:15PM

On Wednesday, about 150 U.S. Army paratroopers arrived in Poland as tensions build across the Ukraine. According to the Department of Defense, the troops will conduct bilateral infantry exercises with Polish soldiers. It'll be the first in the series of exercises, as the Pentagon plans to deploy hundreds of more soldiers to Baltic region in the coming days.

“Russia's aggression in Ukraine has renewed our resolve to strengthening NATO's defense plans and capabilities, and to demonstrate our continued commitment to collective defense in reinforcing our NATO allies in Central and Eastern Europe,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby.

Kirby added that U.S. troops, who were initially stationed in Italy, will be on the ground in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by April 28, totaling 600 soldiers in all. The DOD's intent is to have "a persistent rotational presence" throughout the region. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon previously moved 200 airman and a dozen F16 fighter jets to Central Poland.

As the U.S. military entered Poland, they were greeted on the airfield by Polish soldiers and Stephen Mull, the U.S. ambassador to Poland, who addressed both troops.

Poland has been there for the United States, and today, as the transatlantic community confronts Russia's unacceptable aggression against Poland's neighbor, Ukraine, a sovereign and independent state, we have a solemn obligation in the framework of NATO to reassure Poland of our security guarantee.

Mull said that the U.S. military will remain in Poland until at least the end of 2014.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Polish state officials reportedly became nervous after Russia moved about 40,000 soldiers to the Russian-Ukrainain border. The troops were moved there to protect the interests of Russia and its citizens as political instability continues to rattle the Ukraine. Russia first deployed troops to the Ukrainian border in early March when tensions flared in the heavily pro-Russian Crimea region.