As it happened - Ukraine army on full alert

Key points

  • Ukraine puts its army on full combat alert after Russia approves the deployment of its troops
  • Newly-appointed head of Ukrainian navy "defects", pledges allegiance to unrecognised Crimean PM
  • US Secretary of State John Kerry warns that Russia faces expulsion from the Group of Eight developed nations
  • Nato has held an emergency meeting at 12:00 GMT to discuss the escalating conflict in Crimea
  • There are stand-offs between Ukrainian armed forces and Russian soldiers who have surrounded Ukrainian bases
  • All times GMT

Live text

Reporting:

  • Jeremy Gahagan 
  • Mohamed Madi 
  • Alix Kroeger 
  • Nina Lamparski 

Last updated 2 March 2014

STANDARD 08:55

Welcome to our coverage of events in Ukraine, where the army is on full combat alert and high-level diplomacy will be taking place in Kiev, Moscow, Brussels and elsewhere.

STANDARD 09:02

The BBC's Daniel Sandford, who is at the Ukrainian naval headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, says pro-Russian activists are blocking sailors from coming to work. There appears to be great nervousness inside the base, with at least one machine-gunner stationed on a roof. Other armed troops are peering through windows and off rooftops.

STANDARD 09:04

The Ukrainian Supreme Council is holding an emergency closed-door session to discuss Russia's decision to authorise military intervention, reports the Ukrainian Espresso TV channel. The council will hear reports by Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh, security service chief Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, and the chief of the Border Service, Mykola Lytvyn.

STANDARD 09:09

Armed guards in Simferopol (2 March 2014)

Heavily armed troops wearing no identifying insignia guard a local government building in the Crimean capital, Simferopol. Some 6,000 extra Russian troops and 30 additional armoured vehicles are now in Crimea, the Ukrainian Defence Minister said on Saturday.

STANDARD 09:10

Crimea has at times been under the control of the ancient Greeks, the Romans, Gothic tribes, the Kievan Rus' state, the Byzantine empire and the Mongols, among others. It was a protectorate of the Ottoman Empire from the mid-1400s to 1783, when it was annexed by Russia. This is a good summary of the peninsula's complicated history from the Washington Post.

STANDARD 09:14

Is this the most dangerous moment in Europe since the end of the Cold War? The head of the Carnegie Moscow Center, Dmitri Trenin, certainly thinks so. In this commentary for the Guardian newspaper, he says: "Even if there is no war, the Crimea crisis is likely to alter fundamentally relations between Russia and the west and lead to changes in the global power balance."

STANDARD 09:16

UK Foreign Minister William Hague is due to visit Kiev on Sunday. He has said he is "deeply concerned" and will "reiterate support for the territorial integrity of Ukraine".

TWEET 09:21

Richard Galpin, BBC News, Moscow

tweets: #Russia media reporting "provocations" by #Ukraine ultra-nationalists on border - "attempt to block Moscow-Crimea road".

STANDARD 09:25

The Russian Orthodox Church described Russia's decision to send troops as a "peace-keeping mission".

"We hope that the mission of the Russian warriors aimed at defending the freedom and the cultural originality of [Ukrainians] will not meet with the sort of violent resistance which can lead to big-scale military engagements," the church said in a statement.