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8.02 pm: Pro-Russia protesters attack Ukranian military base in CrimeaA Ukrainian military base in Crimea was today attacked by pro-Russian protesters. BBC reports, "Several hundred unarmed protesters attacked the base at Novofedorivka, which is now under almost complete control of Russian forces."3.35 pm: Norway sanctions Russia over Ukraine crisisNorway has decided to follow the European Union (EU) in imposing sanctions on Russia over the Ukraine crisis, the Norwegian foreign ministry said.IANS reported Norway would do exactly the same as the EU when it came to financial sanctions against Russia, said Norwegian Foreign Minister Boerge Brende Friday, according to Xinhua."This means that a number of key Russian politicians and officials are no longer welcome in Norway, either visiting or passing through. They will not have access to the assets they may have in Norway," said Brende.The sanctions will be implemented very quickly, the Norwegian foreign minister said.2.21: Ukraine, Russia hit, international financial markets safe from impact of ongoing crisisThe Ukraine crisis has not had very much impact on international financial markets so far, although it has hit Ukraine and Russia, said European Central Bank Governing Council member Erkki Liikanen.Reuters reported that when asked about the impact of the crisis in a TV interview on Finnish national broadcaster Yle, Liikanen said: "For international, European financial markets, its impact has not been large. It has been very large for Ukraine, large for Russia, but on average it has been limited internationally."2.16pm: EU sanctions divorced from reality says Russian Foreign MinisterThe Russian Foreign Ministry said sanctions imposed by the European Union on 12 Russians and Ukrainians on Friday over Crimea were "divorced from reality", Reuters reported."It's a pity that the European Council made a decision that is divorced from reality," the ministry's spokesman Alexander said in a statement on the ministry's website.In a separate statement, the ministry said Moscow hoped the decision to send to Ukraine a monitoring mission of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe would help resolve what it called an "internal Ukrainian crisis".--End of updates for 21 March--6.55 pm: EU, Ukraine sign deal as Putin formally gets CrimeaPresident Vladimir Putin completed his annexation of Crimea on Friday, signing the Black Sea peninsula into Russia just as Ukraine itself sealed a deal pulling the country closer into Europe's orbit.Putin said he saw no need to further retaliate against U.S. sanctions, a newly conciliatory tone apparently aiming to contain one of the worst crises in Russia's relations with the West since the Cold War. His spokesman, however, later kept the Kremlin's warning open that it could consider various options.At Ukrainian bases on the peninsula, troops hesitated, besieged by Russian forces and awaiting orders. Russia claimed some had already switched sides and agreed to join the Russian military. Friday had been the deadline for Ukrainian troops to leave Crimea, join the Russian military or demobilize.Russia rushed the annexation of the strategic peninsula after Sunday's hastily called referendum in which its residents overwhelmingly backed leaving Ukraine and joining Russia. Ukraine and the West have rejected the vote, held two weeks after Russian troops had seized control of Crimea. The US and EU have responded to the crisis by slapping sanctions on Russia.Putin hailed the incorporation of Crimea into Russia as a "remarkable event" before he signed the parliament bills into law Friday in the Kremlin. He also ordered fireworks in Moscow and Crimea.At nearly the same time in a ceremony in Brussels, Ukraine's new prime minister pulled his nation closer to Europe by signing a political association agreement with the European Union. It was the same deal that touched off Ukraine's political crisis, the deal that President Viktor Yanukovych rejected in November, igniting the months of protests that drove him from office and sent him fleeing to Russia."Russia decided to actually impose a new post-Cold War order and revise the results of the Second World War," Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said in Brussels. "The best way to contain Russia is to impose real economic leverage over them."President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered a second round of sanctions against nearly two dozen members of Putin's inner circle and a major bank supporting them.Moscow retaliated by banning nine U.S. officials and lawmakers from entering Russia, but Putin indicated that Russia would likely refrain from curtailing cooperation in areas such as Afghanistan. Moscow appears to hope to limit the damage.But the latest US sanctions, which targeted Putin's chief of staff along with other senior Kremlin aides and four businessmen considered to be his lifelong friends, dealt a painful blow to Russia. Obama also warned that more sweeping penalties against Russia's economy, including its robust energy sector, could follow.International rating agencies downgraded Russia's outlook and Russian stocks tumbled Friday."The economic impact of the sanctions is already visible on the stock exchange, the value of the Ruble, the investment climate," EU President Herman Van Rompuy told VRT network.Putin tried to play down the sanctions' toll on Russia at Friday's televised session of the presidential Security Council."We should keep our distance from those people who compromise us," he said, a jocular reference to the officials on the sanctions list, some of whom attended the meeting.Putin added sardonically that he would open an account to keep his salary in the targeted Bank Rossiya, a private bank that is owned by Yuri Kovalchuk, considered to be Putin's longtime friend and banker. With about $10 billion in assets, Rossiya ranks as the 17th-largest bank in Russia and maintains numerous ties to banks in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.At the same time, Putin said he sees no immediate need for further Russian retaliation to the US sanction."We must refrain from retaliatory steps for now," Putin said.But Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, later said that Russia would retaliate to the latest US sanctions."We will react every time. We responded to the first round of sanctions, and we will respond to those too," he said, according to the ITAR-Tass news agency. He did not elaborate.Russia is expected to play a major role in the planned withdrawal of US and other Nato forces from Afghanistan later this year by providing transit corridors via its territory, and Putin seemed to indicate that the Kremlin at this stage has no intentions of shutting the route.Moscow also appeared to be warming to the deployment of monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the top trans-Atlantic security and rights group.Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia would welcome sending the OSCE observers to Russian-speaking regions in eastern Ukraine on condition that their number and locations are clearly set, but he made it clear that they wouldn't be let into Crimea.In Crimea, heavily armed Russian forces and pro-Russia militia have blocked Ukrainian military at their bases for weeks. Following Sunday's referendum they have moved aggressively to flush the Ukrainians out, storming some ships and military facilities.The Ukrainian government said it was drawing up plans to evacuate its outnumbered troops from Crimea, but many soldiers still remained. At the Ukrainian military air base in Belbek, outside Sevastopol, Col. Yuly Mamchur told reporters Friday he was still waiting for orders from his commanders on whether to vacate.Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Friday told Putin that 72 Ukrainian military units in Crimea have decided to join the Russian military. His claim couldn't be independently confirmed.Amid its political crisis, Ukraine is teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, struggling to pay off billions of dollars in debts in the coming months. The US and the European Union have pledged to quickly offer a bailout.It owes Russia $2 billion in overdue payments for natural gas supplies. Putin made it clear that Russia will further raise the heat on Ukraine by urging it to pay back a $3 billion bailout loan granted to Yanukovych in December.In addition, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suggested that Russia should reclaim $11 billion in gas rebates it gave Ukraine in exchange for a deal extending Russia's lease on its navy base in Crimea until 2042. Medvedev argued that since Crimea is part of Russia now, the deal is void.4.58 pm: Russia's annexation of Crimea completedRussian President Vladimir Putin signs bills completing Russia's annexation of Crimea, the Associated Press reports.4.24 pm: France offers to send warplanes to help with air patrols in the Baltic regionA defense ministry official says France is offering to send warplanes to help provide air patrols over the Baltic states and Poland amid growing tensions between the West and Russia.The ministry official says France was "available if NATO requests it to contribute to air policing patrols" in the former Soviet republics and Poland, now members of the Atlantic alliance. The comments came as French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visiting Estonia, Lithuania and Poland on Friday.The United States and Britain have already provided such support.A French contribution could include warplanes, AWACs surveillance aircraft and radar. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.2:50 pm: After US sanctions, Russia says it won't do any moreAfter US and EU have imposed wide ranging sanctions on Russia, the nation's president Vladmir Putin has said that Russia will not retaliate further to US sanctions.Other ministers had earlier spoken of 'mirror sanctions' but it isn't clear what will happen given Putin's already opposed it.2:40 pm: Russian parliament's upper house ratifies decision to annex CrimeaIt's done. The Upper House of Russia's Parliament has on expected lines cleared the annexation of Crimea into the Russian federation.The Federation Council voted unanimously to incorporate Crimea after Sunday's hastily called Crimean referendum, in which residents of the Black Sea peninsula overwhelmingly backed breaking off from Ukraine and joining Russia. Ukraine and the West have rejected the vote, held two weeks after Russian troops had taken over Crimea.The move, already approved by the lower house, is set to be completed with Russian President Vladimir Putin's signature.2.10 pm: Lavrov says West's sanctions 'unlawful' during Parliament session discussing approval of Crimea's accessionRussian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says international sanctions imposed on Russian officials and businessmen over the Crimea crisis were "absolutely unlawful" and would create artificial barriers with the West, Reutersreported.Lavrov made the remarks in a speech to the upper house of parliament in which he urged the chamber to approve a treaty signed by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to make Ukraine's Crimea region part of Russia.1.59: Visa and MasterCard stop payment services for Russia's SMP bankVisa Incand MasterCard Inchave stopped, without notification, providing services for payment transactions for clients at Russia's SMP bank, whose main shareholders were hit by US sanctions, the bank said.Co-owners of SMP BankBoris Rotenberg and his older brother Arkady, who received large contracts for the Sochi Winter Olympics were two of the 20 sanctioned by the Obama government, reported Reuters."Due to the fact that the sanctions were imposed on shareholders and not on the bank, we consider the moves by the payment systems unlawful and we are confident that we can resolve the encountered difficulties in the near future," the bank said in a statement.The bank added it has no assets in the United States.1.22: Russia says sanctions will have no immediate or major impact on economyRussian Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev said he expected no big immediate impact from sanctions announced by the West on Russia's financial sector over the Crimea crisis."For now, I see no severe consequences for the financial sector," Moiseev told journalists on the sidelines of a business conference, Reuters reported.1.17 pm: Russia thinking of mirroring West's sanctionsReuters reported that Russia is considering a "mirror response" to sanctions imposed by the West over the Crimea crisis, Russia's state-run RIA news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin as saying."There is such a thing as 'reciprocity' in English and in Russian it is a 'mirror response'," Karasin said. "It should be comparable, and I will not deny that we are thinking about it."--End of updates for 20 March--11:40 pm: EU slaps sanctions on Russia, says more to followThe European Union slapped travel bans and asset freezes on 12 more people, closing in on President Vladimir Putin's inner circle to punish him in the escalating crisis over the Russian annexation of the Crimea peninsula.The move brought the number of Russians and Ukrainians facing EU sanctions to 33, and French President Francois Hollande said it included a lot of crossover with the people the United States is targeting with similar measures."We added 12 people, in concert with the Americans," Hollande said.The 28-nation bloc said the names of the sanctioned would be published Friday. "Some of them are really high-ranking," said EU President Herman Van Rompuy.The EU leaders also tasked its executive Commission to prepare a raft of economic sanctions that could be imposed if one of the biggest political crises in Europe since the Cold War worsens further."We cover all economic areas," said Van Rompuy, implying it could include an arms embargo against Russia.11:09 pm: Russia assures US, says no intention of crossing into Ukraine's borderRussia's defense chief assured US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Russian forces along Ukraine'seastern border have no intention of crossing into Ukrainian territory.A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said Hagel discussed Ukraine'swith Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in an hour-long phone conversation, Associated Press reported."Secretary Hagel appreciated Minister Shoigu's time and the minister's assurance that the troops he has arrayed along the border are there to conduct exercises only, that they had no intention of crossing the border intoUkraineand that they would take no aggressive action," Kirby said.Asked whether Hagel accepted that explanation, Kirby said Hagel expects that Shoigu "will meet his word."When Hagel asked how long the Russian military training exercise would last, Shoigu said he could offer "no firm timetable," Kirby said.Kirby said Hagel initiated the call, having in mind Russia's moves against Crimea.Hagel asserted to his Russian counterpart that because Russian forces are in control of the Crimean Peninsula, they bear responsibility for what happens there, Kirby said.10.45 pm: Pro-Russian forces seize three Ukrainian warshipsPro-Russian forces seized three Ukrainian warships Thursday andUkrainesaid its troops were being threatened in Crimea as the US announced a new round of sanctions against Russia for its annexation of the Black Sea peninsula, Associated Press reported.The Guardian reported, in an address to a joint session of Russia's parliamentary houses scheduled for 11am GMT today, Putin will deliver his position on the hugely contentious Crimean question. His is expected to set the stage for parliament to approve the absorption of Crimea.Meanwhile, France's foreign minister says that leaders of the Group of Eight world powers have suspended Russia's participation in the club amid tensions over Ukraine and Russia's incursion into Crimea.The US and the EU retaliated over the referendum which the west considers illegal with sanctions against Russian and Ukrainian officials on Monday, a move widely seen as "toothless", reported The Guardian. The other seven members of the group had already suspended preparations for a G-8 summit that Russia is scheduled to host in June in Sochi.France's Laurent Fabius went further Tuesday, saying on Europe-1 radio that "concerning the G-8 ... we decided to suspend Russia's participation, and it is envisaged that all the other countries, the seven leading countries, will unite without Russia."Fabius did not give further details.The US and European Union on Tuesday announced new sanctions against Russia over its actions in the Crimean Peninsula.

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