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Ukraine Crisis News Roundup: March 10


Chinese President Xi Jinping told President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in separate phone calls, The Guardian reports. “The situation in Ukraine is extremely complex, and what is most urgent is for all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint to avoid an escalation in tensions," Jinping is reported to have said. 

In a press conference in Kiev on Monday, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt said the FBI and Treasury Department are assisting in Ukraine’s investigation of Yanukovych. Pyatt praised the restraint of the Ukrainian military in Crimea and said that the U.S. believes there is no military resolution to the crisis.

Russian news sources are reporting that ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych will make a statement in Rostov-on-Don on Tuesday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday before meeting with Merkel to discuss escalating sanctions. Putin "appears in telephone conversations to be emollient but does not seem prepared to carry out his verbal commitments inside Ukraine," The Guardian writes

American military strategist Edward Luttwak says Crimea is just the start of Russia's plans for expansion. "Actually the Crimea is not what the Russians want—they want much more. The “Novy Russia” plan prepared in the Kremlin—worked out in detail down to the design of its flag—would separate all the territory east of the great Dnieper River into a new state, 'affiliated' with the Russian Federation, until its accession can be worked out in due course," Luttwak writes

Russian forces seized a military hospital in Simferopol on Monday as 12 U.S. F-16s and 300 American military personnel arrived in Poland. 

Multiple sources are citing former Ukrainian soldier Dmitry Timchuk for information on developing military movements. The Kyiv Post writes that Tymchuk "set up the Center of Military and Political Research in Kyiv" to counter Russian propaganda and cites his latest report that "Russia is desperately trying to withdraw Turkey from a struggle for Crimea." 

“It is highly unlikely that the Ukrainian Army could attempt to seize Crimea by force,” FIPRA Ukraine reports. “In two decades since the collapse of the USSR, the Ukrainian army has turned into one of the weakest in the CIS. Morale of the officers is low. Half of the vehicles and 80% of aircraft are reportedly inoperative.”

The southern Ukrainian cities of Kherson, Odessa, and Mykolaiv have expressed interest in becoming part of the Autonomous Crimean Republic, RIA Novosti reports.

Russian forces have marked the homes of Crimean Tatars with “X”s, just as Stalin’s army did in 1944 before he ordered the violent deportation of the entire Tatar community. Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev asked the presidents of Turkey, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to help prevent Crimean annexation to Russia as the Tatar community becomes increasingly anxious over the potential reinstatement of Russian rule. 

The March 16 referendum, in which Crimeans will vote on whether to become part of Russia, will cost Crimea $1.8 million.

Violence continues to greet protests in Ukraine. The Russian Foreign Ministry reports that masked men opened fire on protesters in Kharkov this weekend, and a BBC crew witnessed an attack on protesters in Sevastopol:

Three Ukrainian activist-journalists detained at a Crimean checkpoint Sunday are still missing, according Ukrainska Pravda. 342 Russians identified as "potential extremists" by the Ukrainian Border Service were detained at the Russia-Ukraine border. 

The Ukrainian government has begun criminal proceedings to punish attacks on journalists in Crimea, the Kyiv Post reports.

Russian politicians visiting Crimea have “made it known that the level of wages, pensions and social benefits to residents of Crimea will be increased by two to three times” and promised that Russia will allocate 40 billion rubles to the area after the vote for annexation, according to FIPRA Ukraine.

In an interview with Russian news site Voice of America, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul said Russia's decision to move into Crimea "was very emotional and rash in response to the flight of Yanukovych...this particular invasion is not in the long-term national interests of Russia." "Damage to US-Russian relations will be enormous," McFaul added. 

Odessa, a party town whose national holiday is April Fool’s day, has taken on a much darker note as it weighs its ties to both Russia and Ukraine, The Times reports.

No one has taken up Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s offer to mediate the crisis. The former Russian oligarch and political prisoner delivered a speech in Kiev's Independence Square yesterday.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko urged the U.S. and E.U. to mediate the crisis. “The negotiations should not be between Ukraine and Russia. World leaders should understand that Russia's aggression against Ukraine concerns the entire world," Tymoshenko said.

The United Nations has released its guidelines for Ukrainian citizens seeking asylum and refugee status. 

The new Ukrainian government has ushered several of the country's richest oligarchs into public office. Here's The Guardian's who's-who of Ukraine's richest politicians.