2 March 2014 Last updated at 08:56

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

    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.


    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.


    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.

    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.


    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.


    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."

    Oleksandr Buryan in Poltava, Ukraine

    emails: I am partly Russian, my first language is Russian and no one here is suppressing my right to speak in Russian. Putin's reasons for protecting the Russian speaking population in Ukraine are a complete nonsense.


    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".

    09:21: Richard Galpin BBC News, Moscow

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


    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.


    Why is Putin doing this? Because he can, writes Julia Ioffe (@juliaioffe) of The New Republic. Western logic does not apply to Russia, she says. "All you really need to do to seem clairvoyant about the place is to be an utter pessimist." And the US or Nato will not do much.

    09:31: Kevin Bishop BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: Ukraine is a state but not yet a nation - from Jack Matlock, former US Ambassador to USSR


    "Pull over and get out": Journalists report being stopped at Crimean checkpoints and having their bulletproof vests confiscated by militia armed with Kalashnikovs.

    09:34: Andrey in Donetsk, Ukraine

    emails: I live in Donetsk and I am Russian-speaking Ukrainian. From Friday Donetsk is overcrowded with outsiders whose job is to pretend to be us (locals). On Saturday they staged the protest meeting with Russian flags, and even announced a people's governor, right on the square - a person who no one had heard about before. I do not know what is happened in other eastern Ukrainian cities, but it looks like the same scenario as in Donetsk.


    Syria, Edward Snowden and now Ukraine: the past 12 months are the worst year of Washington-Moscow relations since the collapse of the Soviet Union, writes Edward-Isaac Dovere in Politico.

    09:43: Duncan Crawford BBC News

    US options being discussed v weak: cancel Obama Russia trip in June, shelve pos trade deal, kick Moscow out of G8, etc.


    The BBC's Ukraine analyst Olexiy Solohubenko says it appears that the far-right paramilitary movement Right Sector is becoming the target of all sorts of dodgy accusations. Their appeal to the Chechen warlord Doku Umarov seems to be a fake, and Right Sector press secretary Andriy Skoropadsky says the account was hacked at the time the appeal was allegedly sent.


    The latest is the mysterious "Russian sniper" in Belgorod allegedly hired by Praviy Sector. Now their site, hosted by VKontakte (the Russian Facebook) has been blocked after a demand from the Russian regulator Roskomnadzor.

    09:48: Breaking News

    Ukraine is to call up all its military reservists, the government has announced.


    Ukraine's armed forces are in a state of full combat readiness to protect key energy and nuclear sites, officials say.


    US President Barack Obama says Russia is in breach of international law, having clearly violated Ukraine's sovereignty. Watch our short report on the earlier phone conversation between Mr Obama and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin.


    Ukraine is estimated to have around one million reservists. Its active military force counts some 160,000 personnel.

    Olga, Moscow, Russia

    emails: I am Russian, was born in Russia and have lived in Moscow all my life. I am deeply ashamed of our government's decisions and actions concerning Ukraine. The military invasion will destroy the relations with Ukraine, with Europe and with all civilised countries, but also it will not safe or protect anybody in Crimea. All people will suffer, including Russia supporters.

    10:00: Dan in Kidderminster

    emails: The Crimea is clearly part of Russia. Only an accident of Soviet history made it part of Ukraine! Let the people of the Crimea have their way!


    Ukraine's government says the mobilisation of its armed forces is to "ensure the security and territorial integrity of Ukraine".


    BBC Ukrainian editor Nina Kuryata in Kiev has received reports of Russian paratroopers threatening to storm Ukrainian army's marine battalion barracks in the village Perevalnoye, south of Simferopol. The battalion refused to hand in weapons and is preparing for assault.

    10:04: Dean in London

    emails: The usual double standards by the West. We are supposed to promote and support democracy and suddenly we are happy with armed coup only because it hurts Russia. Do we really expect that Russia will watch this indifferently and leave millions of Russians to be threatened by hooligans, armed by whom?

    10:05: Gregory Edelston in London

    emails: Just as Gibraltar is and wants to be British, so too Crimea wants to be Russian. The people are Russian and want to be part of Russia. What is the problem - it's democracy?

    Kevin Bishop BBC News, Sevastapol

    tweets: The blast from the twelve o'clock daily cannon fire here in Sevastopol causes its usual jump among the gathered journos...

    10:09: Alex McCormac in London

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay What is the point of the Security Council if it can't act? Surely States in play should be excluded from the voting process

    10:15: Ben O'Sullivan, UK

    tweets: Very worrying in Ukraine, massive shift of global power. US obviously much weaker than it was 10 years ago @BBC_HaveYourSay #ukraine

    10:17: Shaun in the Lake District

    emails: While people are following the rhetoric that 'Crimea wants to be Russian', they seem to be skipping over the fact of the latest Gallup poll of Crimean residents where the results were 53% wanted to stay as an autonomy within Ukraine, and only 23% wanted to be separated and become an autonomy in Russia.


    Associated Press correspondent Tim Sullivan has tweeted: Soldiers - still in unmarked uniforms - at Crimean council of ministers. Sunday. Simferopol.#ukraine #russia

    Russian troops in Simferopol
    10:24: Andrei in London

    emails: I am Belarusian, live in London, my mother and grandfather are Ukranians. I think even if most of people in Crimea are Russians, that does not mean all of them want to live in Russia. Even if they did want to, there should be a referendum, but not Putin who will decide.


    Meetings to prepare for an upcoming G8 summit in the Russian resort of Sochi should be put on hold, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has told Europe 1 radio. The US and Canada have already said they will not take part in the meetings.


    Colleagues at BBC Ukrainian in Kiev point out that Facebook accounts of most Ukrainian cabinet ministers are becoming a valuable source of information. The Interior Minister Arsen Avakov is using his Facebook page to publish detailed updates of developments in Crimea and elsewhere.

    Richard Galpin BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: Police break up anti-war demo in #moscow # Russia. Outside ministry of defence. Few hundred people

    Anti-war protest in Moscow (2 March 2014)

    Ukrainian Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh has told the Supreme Council that 11 Russian helicopters and seven Il-76 transport aircraft landed in Crimea last night. He added that Colonel General Aleksandr Galkin, Southern Military District commander, is in charge of the Russian "special operation" in Crimea.


    The Kremlin has published this read-out of Russian President Vladimir Putin's conversation with his US counterpart Barack Obama on Saturday. It says Mr Putin stressed that in case of any further spread of violence to Eastern Ukraine and Crimea, Russia retains the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of those areas.


    Putin will not let Ukraine go easily, writes John Kampfner in the Sunday Telegraph: "It is hard to think of two countries more entangled".

    Pro-Ukraine rally in Washington (1 March 2014)

    US protesters have been holding rallies in support of Ukraine outside the White House in Washington.


    Ukraine has called for the immediate despatch of an international fact-finding mission to Ukraine and Crimea, as well as assistance in protecting nuclear facilities. It is inviting the OSCE, the EU and others to hold meetings in Ukraine. It is also setting up a parliamentary negotiation group to reach out to Russian MPs.


    The Ukrainian military recruitment office in the Crimean capital Simferopol is open, reports the BBC's Olga Ivshina: "Staff members did not let us in, but said that volunteers to join Ukrainian army can come tomorrow. Conscripts will be called to come, when 'the order comes'," she says.

    Yaroslav Trofimov Wall Street Journal

    tweets: So far the only ethnic Russians beaten/arrested/persecuted are the ones trying to demonstrate in Moscow against the war on #Ukraine

    10:47: Attila Bordas
    A small protest held in Oxford

    tweets: this photo of a small protest being held in Oxford, UK

    10:48: Ivar Bundulis in Edinburgh, Scotland

    emails: I really hope the decision-makers here see the potential for loss of human life and suffering that a conflict could bring. Their first priority should be to avoid war. Their second priority should be to respect the democratic will of the people. If the people of Crimea vote to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russia, then that should be respected by all parties and brought about in a fair and just manner. Just like the wishes of the rest of the Ukraine to have closer ties to the west should be respected.

    Michael in Leeds

    emails: This reminds me of the Sudetenland crisis [in 1938]. Germany claims they have the right to takeover the Sudetenland as there are Germans speakers there, then takes it. Then decides it wants the rest of Czechoslovakia.

    Gas storage facility in the village of Mryn, north of Kiev (21 May 2013)

    This photo shows an underground gas storage facilities in the Ukrainian village of Mryn, north of Kiev. Russia supplies more than half of Ukraine's natural gas needs, and is owed around $1.6 billion (£954 million) by the Ukrainian state.

    11:03: Ian in Folkestone

    emails: I am not sure why the events in Ukraine are considered to be an "armed coup" and "undemocratic". Large numbers of civilians protested, significant numbers were killed by Ukrainian forces and the changes were passed by the Ukrainian parliament in accordance with Ukrainian law. Other than the killing of protesters, which must have been sanctioned by the previous government, this seems to me to be democracy in action.


    Ukrainian MP Hryhoriy Nemyrya, a former deputy prime minister for Euro-integration, has said there is no threat to Russian citizens on Ukrainian and Crimean territory, so there are no grounds for Russian troops getting involved, Ukraine's 5 Kanal TV reports.


    Journalist Brian Whelan, who specialises in reporting on Europe's far-right, tweets:

    Who is in charge of defence in post-revolution Ukraine? Andriy Parubiy of far-right Svoboda party and Dmytro Yarosh of Right Sector (nazis)

    11:14: Yulia Miadz, Belarusian in France

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay There are many Russian apeakers in Belarus. Really afraid that my country will put the next one on Putin's list.


    Reuters reports that Ukraine's acting President Olexander Turchynov has said Ukraine's airspace is closed to any non-civilian aircraft.


    "We are on the brink of disaster," Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk is quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.


    BBC Russian Service correspondent Oleg Boldyrev at the Crimean base in Feodosiya says the deadline has passed for Ukrainian marines to swear their allegiance to the new Crimean authorities. The base gates are blocked by a chain of Cossacks; two armoured personnel carriers are visible beyond that.


    More from BBC Russian correspondent Oleg Boldyrev at the Ukrainian marine base in Feodosiya: "The atmosphere is calm but people are chanting. There are calls for the Ukrainain marines not to obey orders from Kiev... [It is] very calm at the moment, with locals coming to thank Russian soldiers."

    11:21: Iain Morris in London

    emails: There seem to be lots of people posting on this site who believe Russia is justified because Crimea is home to lots of Russian speakers. Does that mean Russia has carte blanche to invade any territory where there are Russian speakers on the pretext of defending their rights? I don't recall reading any reports that Russian speakers in Ukraine were being threatened with violence and discrimination in the wake of Yanukovych's exit.

    11:24: Yauhen in London

    emails: I hope that Europe manages to avoid another disgrace and finally acts to protect the country that paid such a high price for a chance to become a part of united Europe one day. If Europe and US don't act, what were these people fighting for?


    EU specialist Gergely Polner tweets: In 1994, Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons against joint guarantees by US, UK & Russia of its territorial integrity.


    Ukraine's acting Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accuses Russia of "declaring war", the AFP news agency reports.

    Arseniy Yatsenyuk (1 March 2014)

    In a statement, PM Yatsenyuk said:

    "This is actually a declaration of war to my country. We urge Putin to pull back his troops from this country and honour bilateral agreements. If he wants to be the president who started the war between two neighbouring and friendly countries, he has reached his target within a few inches."

    Carl Bildt Swedish Foreign Minister

    tweets: "On the centenary of 1914, we are suddenly in a Europe of invasion, aggression and threats of massive use of military force."

    11:36: Alice Mishchenko in Edinburgh, Scotland

    emails: I'm a British citizen but I was born and lived half of my life in Ukraine, where I still have close family and friends. Clearly what's happening here is Putin's unwillingness to let go of the firm hold he's had over Ukraine for so many years. First he acted as a puppet master of the former Ukrainian president, Yanukovich, pressuring him not to sign the EU agreement and now breaking the international law. He's brought the troops into Ukraine under the false pretence of the Russian people in Ukraine getting suppressed and beat up, when locals (including Russians in Ukraine) are saying it's all fake and it's not them protesting with Russian flags. This has to be stopped! If Crimean majority want to be part of Russia, let them have a referendum but Putin has no right to dictate what people in Ukraine (Russian or not) want and need. No to war in Ukraine!

    11:37: Christian Fraser BBC News, Sevastapol

    tweets: Russian soldiers going through store rooms of a naval base in Crimea. "We are hostages" said a Ukrainian admiral

    Soldiers in Crimea
    11:38: Chris Dancer in St Helens, UK

    emails: 100 years since 1914 and we are still doing this? Trying to solve disputes by moving soldiers into other people's countries? It makes you want to scream.


    Our Russian Service correspondent Oleg Boldyrev is near the gates of Ukraine's marines base in Feodosia, where a standoff is taking place after marines refused to pledge loyalty to the new Pro-Russian government in Crimea.

    "Despite threats to attack the base, local Cossacks, who act as law and order here, continue to stand in a chain near the gates," he reports.

    11:43: Richard Galpin BBC News, Moscow

    says two anti-war demonstrations were broken up by riot police on Sunday morning. In total, a few hundred took part. A demonstration in support of the Russian government's policy on Ukraine is due to take place at 13:00 GMT.


    More from our Russian Service correspondent Oleg Boldyrev, who says it has become risky to film activity in the crowds in Feodosia: "We saw cameramen and photographers being harassed, a Reuters cameraman had to leave as he approached the base and another cameraman was led away by a policeman."

    Szilard Szocs in Budapest, Hungary

    emails: I'm deeply concerned about the current escalation of the events. So far, it also gives me much anxiety that Hungary - as a member of the EU and the North Atlantic treaty, as well as a neighbour to Ukraine - we still fail to make a bold statement about the situation and oppose any kind of aggression which threatens sovereignty. I don't know how the heroes of the 1956 Hungarian revolution would feel about this.


    Paul Mason from British Channel 4 TV sees a broader risk from the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Coming home on a London bus on Saturday night, he writes: "Few people betrayed any grasp of the odds that they were living through the last days of globalisation and multilateral order - but they are high."

    Daniel Sandford BBC News, Perevalnoe

    tweets: Perevalnoe now. Ukrainian army base surrounded by Russian troops

    Russian soldiers surround Ukrainian army base

    Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen says Russia is threatening peace and security in Europe, the Reuters news agency reports. Mr Rasmussen also calls on Russia to de-escalate tensions.

    Sam Stoner in Indiana, US

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay I live in the United States, but even I fear the implications of another land war in Europe.


    One of the central Russian complaints about the Maidan protests in Ukraine was the far-right involvement, says the BBC's Jack Garland. The BBC's Newsnight programme has produced this analysis: watch it on our YouTube channel here.

    11:58: Marcela in Bucharest, Romania

    emails: This is most important moment in Europe history. It has to stand up against aggression coming from Russia which wants to break the rise of human values. It is a big lie that Russia protects its citizens. The vast majority of Russian people from Ukraine are just happier living in peace in the country. It is their life who is going to be disrupt now.

    Mark Lowen BBC News, Sevastapol

    tweets: Self-defence unit blockading naval hq in #Sevastapol. Say they won't move. We saw men on roof of building behind

    Protesters in Sevastapol (2 March 2014)
    Mark Lowen BBC News, Sevastapol

    tweets: Then these guys arrived: professional-looking, heavily-armed soldiers as back-up. Prised open door & left #Sevastapol

    Soldiers in Sevastapol

    To recap, Ukraine has ordered a full military mobilisation in response to Russia sending more troops to Crimea.

    Other measures announced by Ukraine on Sunday include:

    • Reserves to be mobilised and trained
    • Emergency headquarters to be set up
    • Increased security at key sites, including nuclear plants
    Max Seddon BuzzFeed

    is at the stand-off at the Ukrainian naval base in Perevalnoe, in Crimea, which is surrounded by Russian troops. He tweets: "I feel like I know everyone here who doesn't have a machine gun".


    German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier calls the escalation of tensions "extremely dangerous" and says it is urgently necessary for those responsible not to take further steps that could only be seen as "provocation", the Reuters news agency reports.

    Frank-Walter Steinmeier (28 February 2014)
    Myroslava Petsa Correspondent at Ukraine's 5 Channel TV

    tweets: Int Minister #Avakov denies reports of mass resignations within Ukrainian troops based in #Crimea, says not a single officer resigned

    Harry in Watford, UK

    emails: This is not a war, this is democracy. The wishes of Crimean people need to be respected. If they vote in favour of rejoining Russia, then that is their decision. Western interference is not helping. Lives are at risk, that is the main priority. Russia is only thinking of the people, nothing else.


    Andrey Illarionov, a former advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin, says Ukraine is facing a real prospect of full-out war and "fratricide" at the hands of the Russian government, and should seal its borders with Russia.

    "The current operation is aimed at immersing Ukraine in civil war, turning Ukraine into a territory of chaos, collapse and catastrophe in which brother would turn on brother," the Washington-based economist told Ukrainian media.


    Here is that statement from Nato's secretary general calling on Russia to de-escalate tensions.

    12:34: Lee Knight in Melbourne, Australia

    emails: I'm married to a Ukrainian and as a friend of Ukraine. I am horrified by events in Ukraine and hope the world will work to stop this war and stop Putin's naked aggression and bullying tactics reminiscent of Hitler's tactics.

    Crowds in Kiev (2 March 2014)

    These anti-Russian protesters in Kiev were applauding as a man walked through the large crowd with a European Union flag.

    David M Herszenhorn Moscow correspondent for the New York Times
    Family posing with Russian soldiers at Simferopol airport (picture by David Herszenhorn of the New York Times), 2 March 2014

    tweets this picture: Family posing w/ Russian soldiers Simferopol airport. Why? "Because you don't see this everyday," Roman, dad, said.


    "No-one in Crimea obeys Kiev," the speaker of the Crimean parliament Vladimir Konstantinov tells a news conference. He says all the local security services are now under the control of an emergency HQ formed by the new head of the Crimean government, pro-Russian activist Sergiy Aksyonov.


    BBC correspondents have seen what appear to be Russian troops digging trenches on Crimea's border.

    Myroslava Petsa Correspondent at Ukraine's 5 Channel TV

    tweets: Husband says he packed his backpack already, ready to go to military enlistment office. In case of war he'll be an interpreter

    12:50: Boris Sergeev in Novosibirsk, Russia

    emails: I'm a Russian, live in the centre of Russia - Siberia. No idea why Putin did this, this must be some mistake. We, the middle class of Russia, don't want any war, we don't want any imperial ambitions to be established. We want a decent life for us and our children and good relations with the whole world and with our neighbours. But even if he made this mistake, Putin has never retreated and he never said he was wrong. And this is what scares me most.

    12:51: Olga, London

    emails: I am amazed that some of the people writing on here hold a view that this is democracy in action. Beggars belief. If Crimea wants to have a referendum, that is one thing, but invading a foreign country with a military force is something else altogether. Please, please let's not mix these two points.

    12:58: Andy in Edinburgh

    emails: My wife is from Donetsk and her family are still there. Generations of their family are from rural Ukraine but they also feel close to Russian culture, with a shared religion, language and history. They want Ukraine to stay together but one of the first actions of the new unelected Ukrainian leaders was to revoke the official status of Russian language. This disregard for a large proportion of citizens showed no desire to help build a united Ukraine. Many in the east remember western Ukrainian collaboration with the Nazis in WWII and are worried to see the far right gaining leadership positions again in Kiev.

    Ukrainian troops at Perevalnoe lock themselves into the base

    The BBC's Eleanor Montague, who is at the stand-off at the Crimean military base of Perevalnoe, has sent this photo of Ukrainian troops who locked themselves in after Russian troops surrounded the base.


    Ukraine's acting Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia has told the BBC World Service Newshour programme that he's been trying to talk to his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, for three days, but he never called back. Mr Deshchytsia says it is up to the West now to force Russia to back down.

    Damian McElroy Telegraph correspondent in Kiev
    Bagpiper at Kiev anti-Russian protest (picture from Damian McElroy, Telegraph), 2 March

    tweets this picture from the anti-Russian protest in Kiev: A bagpiper to add to the mix in Maidan #Ukraine #Crimea Lots going on. General revival of the mood of defiance


    Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, says his company, SCM, "will do all it can to preserve Ukraine's unity".

    Rinat Akhmetov

    In a statement published on the company's website, Mr Akhmetov also warns that "Ukraine's future is under threat" and urges a peaceful solution to the crisis. Mr Akhmetov is a former key ally of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.

    Mark Lowen BBC News, Crimea

    tweets: Russian organisation head in #Sevastopol tells me Moscow must intervene because of "genocide" vs Russians in Kiev. "We've prevented it here"

    13:18: Richard Galpin, BBC News, Moscow

    tweets: Anti-war protestor in #Moscow #Russia: "I am ashamed at what's happening. We have to show Ukrainians not all Russians support views of #Putin"

    13:21: Mike in Gwynedd ,Wales

    emails: Surely the Paralympics can't go ahead in this atmosphere?


    Britain pulls out of preparatory talks due to be held in the coming days for the G8 summit in Sochi because of Russia's decision to authorise military action in Ukraine, Foreign Office officials tell the Press Association.

    Andrew Stevens in Nottingham

    emails: My wife is Ukrainian and my in-laws live in the South of Ukraine. I have recently visited both Ukraine and Moscow. Let me tell everyone who is reading these feeds, there is absolutely no threat to Russian nationals, the Ukrainian people want to build their country and have hope for the future, nothing more. My brother-in-law is telling me that Russia is organising the demonstrations.

    13:29: Christian Fraser, BBC News, Sevastopol

    tweets: Russian naval ship from the Black Sea Fleet now in sight of the Sevastopol promenade. And in our live shot - handy!


    Russia's Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol.

    13:30: Robert, Stockholm, Sweden

    emails: I am a Bosnian that fled my own country during the war in Bosnia [1992-95]. This is exactly the same scenario that happened in Bosnia and Croatia. Except in Bosnia and Croatia it was Serbs backed by Serbia and Russia who expressed "fears of safety" and Russia intervened. The West also "warned" and "protested" and also "strongly objected" the war in Bosnia, but were scared that Russians might jump in if USA and EU step in and stop Serbia. They never did anything, hundreds of thousands fled and died in largest genocide after WWII. They will do nothing yet again.


    Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accuses the Russian army of carrying out "acts of provocation" in Crimea in order to justify its presence there, but says the Ukrainian military have not responded and are still at their bases, according to the Ukrainska Pravda website.

    Mike Alder in Bath

    emails: How can using the native language of some of the people be a rationale for invading a country. Following that logic maybe Russia will target Chelsea or Knightsbridge next!


    More from UK Foreign Secretary William Hague on the UK's pullout from preparatory G8 talks: "The sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine has been violated and this cannot be the way to conduct international affairs. And so in addition to calling yesterday's emergency meeting of the UN security council, the United Kingdom will join other G8 countries this week in suspending our cooperation under the G8 which Russia chairs."

    William Hague 15/02/14

    The US and Canada have already said they will not take part in the meetings, and earlier today France called for them to suspended.

    13:43: Gabriel Gatehouse, BBC News, Crimea

    tweets: Russian soldiers I've seen in #Crimea seem very disciplined, not aggressive but well armed and firmly holding positions at Ukrainian bases


    Why is Crimea so dangerous? It's complicated: read the BBC news website's guide here.

    13:45: Philip Rose in Brighton, England

    emails: Crisis in Crimea? Russian Imperialism? Replace 'Ottoman Empire' with maybe the European Community or the USA, then haven't we seen this all before? I suggest we send in the Light Brigade.

    13:46: Daniel Sandford, BBC News, Sevastopol

    tweets: Meanwhile the Sochi 2014 Paralympics organisers carry on as if nothing has happened

    13:46: Nick Bryant BBC News, at the UN

    tweets: Russia argued for weeks at #UN against aid convoys entering #Syria because it violated sovereignty. Crimea with Russian troops? No problem

    13:45: Christian Fraser, BBC News, Sevastopol

    has just tweeted: another photo of a Russian naval ship in Sevastopol.


    "Black Sea Fleet an ever present in Sevastopol" he says.

    13:56: Will Vernon, BBC News, Sevastopol

    has just tweeted a photo of a gunman on a roof near the navy base in Sevastopol


    "The Ukrainian Navy HQ in #Sevastopol - nervous-looking troops stay in base which is surrounded by various armed men" he says.


    The BBC's Richard Galpin is in Moscow and watching how Russians are reacting to developments. He's just seen thousands of pro-government demonstrators marching through the city.

    14:00: Julia Ioffe Senior editor, The New Republic

    tweets: Czech Republic recalls its ambassador to #Russia for what it calls "Prague Spring in the #Crimea." Damn. http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2014/03/2/7017082/


    Ukrainian border guards tell Reuters that the situation is stable on all borders except for Crimea.

    14:01: Ben Judah Russia analyst

    tweets: "A Ukraine war won't pose a threat to Putin from Western sanctions. A Ukraine war will pose a threat to Putin by de-stablising the elite.


    More than 1,500 veterans of the Soviet Union's military campaign in Afghanistan (1979-89) have arrived in Crimea from Russia, the Russian Interfax news agency reports. Their leader, Frants Klintsevich, told the agency that they are there to offer "friendly and moral support" to activists in Crimea - via BBC Monitoring.


    US Secretary of State John Kerry says Russia is behaving "in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext".


    The events leading to today's crisis in Ukraine can be traced all the way back to 1991, the year the country declared independence from the USSR. Learn more thanks to our handy timeline.


    The Telegraph has published this article on Russia's version of the Hell's Angels - the Night Wolves. They are strong Putin supporters and are reported to have a heavy presence now in Crimea.


    More from US Secretary of State John Kerry, who has just appeared on the CBS programme Face the Nation. He says Russia has committed an "incredible act of aggression" in Ukraine, and threatened "very serious repercussions" from the United States and other countries, including sanctions.


    Mr Kerry warned Russia could lose its place in the G8 over its deployment of troops in Ukraine.

    "[Vladimir Putin] may find himself with asset freezes, on Russian business, American business may pull back, there may be a further tumble of the ruble," the US Secretary of State said.

    Kevin Bishop BBC News, Sevastopol

    The fourth navy ship we've seen heading towards dock in Sevastopol in the last hour. #Crimea

    Navy ship in Sevastapol

    The Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, Yuriy Sergeyev, says Ukraine is preparing to defend itself against Russia and will ask other countries for military aid if Russian activity expands.


    Pope Francis has appealed to all sides to work together and find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

    AFP 02/03/14

    Addressing the crowds in St Peter's Square in Rome, Pope Francis said: "I ask you to keep praying for Ukraine, which is living through a very delicate situation, while I hope that all the different parts of the country work together to overcome misunderstandings and together work towards building a future for the country."


    The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has called an emergency meeting in Vienna later this afternoon to discuss the situation in Ukraine. The body is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organisation. Representatives from 57 member states are expected to attend.


    British Foreign Secretary William Hague is on his way to Ukraine's capital Kiev for talks with the new government there.


    Thousands of people have rallied in Ukrainian cities to condemn what they see as Russia's "military aggression" in Crimea. Demonstrations were held in Kirovohrad, Vinnytsya, Cherkasy, Ternopil and Sumy, UNIAN news agency reports. In Kherson, two rival rallies took place.

    Rally in against the Russian troop deploymentoutside the regional administration offices in Zaporizhya (2 March 2014)
    Mark Riddell in St Albans, England

    emails: My wife is Ukrainian and we regularly visit her family in the west of Ukraine. You would be hard pressed to meet more peaceful and welcoming people. They don't want confrontation with Russia, they just want to govern themselves without Putin's interference. It's absolute nonsense to say that the pro-Russian minority are in danger.

    Christopher Jeffery

    emails: Clearly Putin wasn't listening the the speech made by the head of the IOC, perhaps now is the time for Olympic medalists to return their medals to the Russians?


    There are reports that Russia's leading broadcaster, Channel One, has cancelled its coverage of tonight's Oscars awards ceremony.


    The Ukrainian coast guard tells Reuters that it has withdrawn from two ports in Crimea and moved its vessels to other Black Sea bases. Vessels from the Crimean ports of Kerch and Sevastopol have been moved to Odessa and Mariupol, it said. Earlier the Ukrainian border guard announced all frontiers were stable apart from Crimea's.

    Soldiers digging trenches (2 March 2014)

    This photo purportedly shows Russian soldiers digging trenches on the strip of land joining Crimea to mainland Ukraine.


    France is suspending participation in preparatory meetings ahead of the G8 summit in Sochi, a source in President Francois Hollande's office tells Reuters. The nation joins Britain, the US and Canada in pulling out of the talks.

    15:14: Chris Weafer Moscow-based investment expert

    says the escalating crisis in Ukraine and threats from the West pose little danger to Russia's economy. He explains that 80% of the country's exports are commodities, and that the bulk of its imports are sourced from the EU.

    "The trade and investment relationship with the US is less important and major US corporations, such as Boeing or ExxonMobil, who have been active in Russia for many years have historically sidestepped political disputes," he says.

    Christian Fraser BBC News, Sevastopol

    has been tweeting images of several Russian navy ships arriving in the port of Sevastopol. He says the latest arrival is a Vishnya class intelligence ship.


    China has voiced concern over the continuing crisis in Ukraine and urged talks to resolve it. Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said China sticks to the principle of non-interference in any country's internal affairs and respects Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity, official Xinhua news agency reports - via BBC Monitoring.

    Ukrainian men queue up at military enlistment office (2 March 2014)

    Men are seen queuing up at the reception of a military enlistment office in Kiev today. Ukraine has called up all its army reservists, estimated to number around one million.


    Up to 27,000 people have marched through Moscow to show support for the Kremlin's policy on Ukraine, police in the Russian capital tell Interfax news agency.

    Pro-Kremlin supporters march in Moscow (2 March 2014)

    Here, pro-Kremlin demonstrators are dressed in World War Two army uniforms and carrying replicas of Soviet Army banners reading "Ukrainian Front".


    The BBC's Daniel Sandford in Perevalnoe is warning people against trying to enter Crimea by road from Eastern Ukraine. He says many journalists have encountered problems at the checkpoint. Earlier CBS correspondent Elizabth Palmer complained that Ukrainian militia stole her team's body armour before turning them back.

    Toby Knight in Cambridge

    emails: With the Paralympics still going on in Sochi, are countries such as Great Britain, USA, France, Germany etc withdrawing their athletes? It would seem rather odd to me to continue being a part of this, while Russian aggression continues in the Ukraine. In fact I am very surprised that Putin has not ordered the removal of said athletes!

    US Secretary of State John Kerry

    tweets: This is not East-West, #US & Europe versus #Russia. This is about people of #Ukraine fighting against tyranny.


    Ukraine's new Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk earlier warned that his country was "on the brink of disaster". Find out what else he had to say about Russia in this short video.

    Christian Fraser BBC News, Sevastopol

    tweets: Sorry to bore you - but that makes six in a couple of hours - is there a regatta on?

    Navy ship in Sevastopol (2 March 2014)

    Ukraine's economic woes are a reminder of how challenging the process of economic transition can be, notes our chief business correspondent Linda Yueh. In her latest blog, she says none of the key numbers look pretty more than two decades after Ukraine became a market economy.

    Anti-Putin rally in Kiev (2 March 2014)

    This photo shows a caricature of Russian President Vladimir Putin at a rally in Kiev.

    Daniel Trilling Editor, New Humanist

    tweets: "Crowd stops by statue of St Volodymyr at Holland Park. Photos of protesters who died are on display"

    Pro-Ukraine rally in London (2 March 2014)

    St Volodymyr was a famous ruler of Ukraine, and his statue was erected by Ukrainians in the UK in 1988.

    15:53: BBC Monitoring

    The Ukrainian State Border Service's HQ in Simferopol has been "captured", the service says in a statement circulated by UNIAN news agency.


    Ukraine's navy tells Reuters it still has its full fleet of 10 ships in Sevastopol. The navy says they have not disarmed and remain loyal to Kiev. Earlier the Ukrainian coast guard told Reuters that it had withdrawn its vessels from Sevastopol.


    What's next in the Ukrainian crisis? As our diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall points out, Russian President Vladimir Putin showed in Georgia in 2008 that he is fully prepared to go to war. "And Ukraine matters to him much more," she writes in this analysis.

    US Secretary of State John Kerry

    tweets: Unified view by G8 & more that they will not engage with #Russia as business as normal. Russia inviting trade isolation.

    16:03: BBC Monitoring

    reports: Dmytro Firtash, a major business tycoon in Ukraine, has appealed to the Russian business community to prevent a further escalation of hostilities.

    "On behalf of Ukraine's business circles, which represent all of its regions from west to east and from north to south, I appeal to you as authoritative and responsible representatives of the Russian business community to use all your influence to prevent the conflict from entering an active stage," he said in a statement seen by UNIAN news agency.

    16:06: BBC Monitoring

    reports: The Ukrainian State Border Service's regional HQ in Simferopol has been stormed and captured by "unidentified armed men", the service says in a statement circulated by UNIAN news agency. The headquarters of the Simferopol border detachment has also been taken.


    According to the report, the attack was started by a group of plain-clothed men wearing bullet-proof vests and helmets, who were later joined by members of the Russian military.

    16:20: Damon Wilson

    writing for the Atlantic Council think tank says: "The classic Putin playbook is now on display: fuel separatist sentiments, justify military action by asserting the need to protect ethnic Russians (or at least passport holders), and then "maintain the peace" by stationing Russian forces permanently. In effect, dismember your weak neighbors."

    Howard Amos Journalist, Moscow

    tweets: "75 mins after pro-war rally started in Moscow, literally everyone has gone home. Traffic running again"

    Howard Amos

    Earlier there were reports of thousands attending pro-government rallies in the Russian capital. There have also been anti-government protests and several arrests.

    16:31: Ben Judah Political analyst

    writes in Politico Magazine: "Western leaders are stunned because they haven't realized Russia's owners no longer respect Europeans the way they once did after the Cold War. Russia thinks the West is no longer a crusading alliance. Russia thinks the West is now all about the money."

    Ben in Sheffield, UK

    emails: As a member of a younger generation having little exposure to warfare, this is the first time I have been genuinely concerned that something could spark into a much wider situation. I just hope that world leaders and organisations handle this in an adult and sensible way before the situation gets out of hand.

    Duncan Crawford BBC News

    tweets: US continues to condemn Russia for violating Ukrainian territorial integrity. Many in Moscow will keep saying what about Iraq, Libya etc.

    16:46: BBC Monitoring

    says: Russian state-owned news agency RIA Novosti reports that Ukrainian navy chief Denys Berezovsky, who was appointed by acting President Turchynov yesterday, has "taken an oath of allegiance to the people to Crimea", which suggests that he has joined forces with the pro-Russian authorities there. Speaking at a news conference in Sevastopol, Rear Adm Denys Berezovskyy reportedly vowed to "defend" the people of Crimea.


    That report on the apparent defection of the Ukrainian navy chief has not yet been carried in Ukrainian media sources, BBC Monitoring says.

    16:51: Matt in Cambridge

    emails: My wife is Russian and is horrified by the events in Ukraine, but not surprised. Putin is unpopular with many younger, savvier Muscovites. It was reported earlier that 27,000 people marched in Moscow in a show of strength for the Kremlin, but this figure is deceiving. I have friends in Moscow who tell me that many were forced to go by their companies (government employees, teachers, civil servants, those who work for large Russian corps) but they do NOT agree with Russian military intervention. Putin only aims to bring civil war to Ukraine, then his presence is justified there.


    US Secretary of State John Kerry has released strongly-worded condemnations of Russian policy in Crimea on Twitter and during various TV interviews in the US. You can watch part of his interview with ABC here.

    16:55: Bruce Springnote, Ukraine analyst
    Men waiting for military call-up in Dnipropetrovsk (photo: Bruce Springnote), 2 March

    tweets: Guys showing up for military call-up today in Dnipropetrovsk #crimea

    17:05: Breaking News

    There's now video footage showing the Ukrainian navy chief Denys Berezovsky pledging allegiance to "the Crimean people". He was only appointed on Saturday by the new government in Kiev.

    17:11: Paul, UK

    emails: Here's hoping that the British Paralympics Association will condemn this action and withdraw from Sochi.

    17:11: Ben Judah, Russia analyst

    tweets: If you are going to expel Russia from a forum, make it one Putin can actually be bothered to turn up to. He missed Obama's G8 in 2012.

    17:15: Yevheniia Gurina in Zaporozhye, Ukraine

    emails: Ukrainian people are really shocked by Russian intervention, we never thought and no one believed that they might start war with us. We don't want war, we're not ready to fight with people we fought together with in the Second World War! And we really cannot understand why Putin (we call him Putler now) really decided that he can do everything, that he can send his guys and our brothers, husbands, fathers and children to death.

    17:15: BBC Monitoring

    The unrecognised Prime Minister of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, says he is ordering all Ukrainian navy servicemen in Sevastopol to ignore orders coming from "the self-declared agencies and officials in Ukraine, including the illegally appointed Defence Minister Tenyukh".

    17:18: Maxim Tucker Amnesty International

    is sceptical about the Ukrainian navy chief's decision to switch sides. He tweets: "#Russia media reports of defections and resignations in #Crimea misleading. Defection and resignation at gunpoint is meaningless. #Ukraine"


    Here's the translation of the newly-appointed Ukrainian Navy chief's statement in which he announces his "defection": "I, Berezovsky Denys Valentynovych, pledge allegiance to the residents of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the hero city of Sevastopol. I vow to strictly follow orders from the commander-in-chief of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and hero city of Sevastopol, as well as orders by military commanders appointed by them, demands placed by the military code. I vow to fulfil my military duty properly and bravely defend the life and property of the people of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol."

    17:28: Myroslava Petsa Journalist, Kiev

    tweets: It took #Berezovsky [Ukrainian navy chief] one day in office to decide to defect, #Turchynov [Ukraine's new prime minister] must look for a better man of principle to fill Navy commander position


    In protest at the crisis over Ukraine, UK ministers will not attend the Sochi Paralympic Games later this week, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced. He tweeted: "Because of the serious situation in Ukraine, [Foreign Secretary] @WilliamJHague & I believe it would be wrong for UK Ministers to attend the Sochi Paralympics."

    17:32: Lily

    emails: I am abroad but my family lives in Sevastopol in Ukraine. All our family is Russian. My granddad died in Ukraine in WW2 protecting the Slovenia culture and our mother land. Ukraine and Russia are brothers. Through the centuries we went together and we begged Russia and the Russian president to protect us! Everything that's going on in Kiev is terrorism and oppression! I'm happy that my granddad doesn't know what did he die for!

    17:35: BBC Monitoring

    Ukrainian Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh has dismissed Navy chief Denys Berezovsky after he pledged allegiance to Crimea - Interfax news agency

    17:36: Peter Ferns in Saint Petersburg

    emails: As someone who's been living in Russia for over two years from the UK, I would say Russia is acting pretty much as business as usual. Not many people really believe things will escalate much and many people don't think Russian soldiers will have much stomach to fight Ukraine. Many have relatives and friends there and view Ukraine people as their brothers and sisters. I think a full-scale conflict would really bring about instability in Russia.

    17:37: Andrew in Salisbury

    emails: I have been to Russia and Ukraine numerous times since 1993. From the Russian point of view things don't look the same as the mainstream media propaganda in the UK suggest. Yanakovich was democratically elected and the foreign observers agreed it was free and fair election. Yet an unelected mob pushed the Government out of power after breaking a negotiated agreement. Then the same mob complains when another mob in Crimea pushes them out of power. The West that was only too happy to help Kosovo separate from Serbia says Crimea cannot do the same!


    Nato's North Atlantic Council met in a closed-door session earlier on Sunday. The Brussels bureau chief for the Financial Times, Peter Spiegel, tweets: "Have been told there was NO discussion of military planning or deployments at @NATO council meeting. #Ukraine"

    17:44: Nikolas Holmov British blogger in Odessa
    Pro-Kiev protest in Odessa (photo: Nikolas Holmov), 2 March

    tweets this picture: "#Odessa protests against occurrences in #Crimea #Ukraine"

    17:45: BBC Monitoring

    The Ukrainian navy's flagship, the Hetman Sahaydachny, remains loyal to Ukraine and is "proudly flying the Ukrainian flag", Rear-Adm Andriy Tarasov says in a statement published on the Defence Ministry's website. The Hetman Sahaydachny frigate is currently docked at a naval base on Crete, Greece, on the way back to Ukraine from an anti-piracy mission in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean, the statement says.

    17:46: BBC Monitoring

    Rear-Adm Serhiy Hayduk has been appointed as the new chief of Ukraine's navy after Denys Berezovsky pledged allegiance to Crimea - Interfax-Ukraine news agency


    Making Russia pay? It's not so simple, writes Peter Baker of the New York Times.


    David Cameron's office has just released this statement: "The Prime Minister remains gravely concerned about events in Ukraine and is determined to pursue all avenues to reduce tensions and de-escalate a very dangerous situation. This evening he will speak to President Obama, Polish Prime Minister Tusk and Lithuanian President Grybauskaite. "

    18:05: BBC Monitoring

    Ukraine's prosecutor-general's has started investigating dismissed navy chief Denys Berezovsky for "high treason" - Interfax-Ukraine news agency

    Olga Tokariuk Journalist, Kiev

    tweets: "'I am Russian, but yes... Glory to #Ukraine!' protest against #CrimeaInvasion in #Kiev"

    Olga Takariuk
    UK Foreign Secretary William Hague

    tweets: Arrived in Kyiv. Will be meeting leaders from across Ukrainian politics tonight


    Thank you for joining us for our live coverage of the crisis in Ukraine. This page will no longer be updated, but coverage will continue on the rest of the BBC News website.


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