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Ukraine Crisis News Roundup: March 9


Russia's "Moskva" missile cruiser is reportedly heading toward Ukraine, Ukrainska Pravda reports. Ukrainian Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh said that Ukraine has no intention of sending more troops to Crimea, but interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said that Ukraine "will not give an inch" of land to Russia. As of Saturday, 11 Ukrainian military units in Crimea were blocked by Russian forces. The Ukrainian army is performing military exercises this weekend.  

Putin defended the legality of Crimea's vote to join Russia in a phone conversation with Angela Merkel and David Cameron. "Crimea's legitimate authorities are based on international law and aimed at guaranteeing the legitimate interests of the peninsula's population," Putin argued, according to The New York Times. 

Ukraine's Interim Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk will visit the White House this weekReuters reports

Ukraine has introduced austerity measures to save government funds, Kommersant reports. The parliament instituted a temporary ban on buying uniforms, cell phones, cars, laptops, and home appliances, and reportedly blocked the accounts of the Autonomous Crimean Republic. On Sunday, Ukrainian Energy Minister Yuriy Prodan said that Russian gas prices may reach $368.5/thousand cubic meters in Ukraine

The E.U. is preparing to send gas to Ukraine should Russia cut off the country's supply, The Guardian reports

Pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine protests continued across Crimea. At least 300 people rallied for Ukraine in Sevastopol on Sunday as pro-Russia protesters took over the regional government headquarters of the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk

Russian forces arrested Euromaidan-Crimea leader Andrew Shchekun in Simferopol on Sunday. 

Warning shots fired late Saturday evening put an end to the OSCE's efforts to get military observers into Crimea. 

Advertisements urging Crimeans to vote for Russian annexation in the March 16 referendum have popped up: 

3,500 Russians have been denied entry to Ukraine because their "stay in the country is undesirable" according to the Ukrainian Border Service. About 500 Russians have been turned away from Ukraine each day, including prospective entrants with "overt extremist intentions," Ukrainska Pravda reports. Five detained Russian citizens tried to enter Ukraine with body armor, gas masks, knives, and guns.

Starting Monday, Ukraine's national railway company will no longer offer train tickets to Crimea because of "technical reasons.Crimean Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Temirhaliyev responded to the news by saying that transport between Crimea and Russia could circumvent Ukraine by going through Russia's Krasnodar region. All Ukrainian television channels in Crimea have now been taken off the air and replaced with Russian state television. 

In Crimea, "local offices of the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, courts, the SBU, the militia (Ministry of Interior) which report directly to Kyiv, continue to be operational but are not fully functioning. Many of the employees and servicemen are demoralised, and some have switched their loyalty to the new Crimean powers," FIPRA Ukraine reports

This Russian soldier filmed a video testimony in which he impersonates a Ukrainian sergeant and asks people not to believe reports that water in Crimea has been shut off and that the Ukrainian army has been beseiged. "Let me tell you, in Crimea almost nobody speaks Ukrainian," he says. 

Mikhail Khodorkovsky is in Kiev visiting Independence Square, where he will address protesters. Here's a live feed of his remarks.