Russia, Ukraine: various

A man and children look at Russian tanks on freight cars after their arrival in Crimea in the settlement of Gvardeiskoye near the Crimean city of Simferopol March 31, 2014

Ukraine orders disarming of armed groups after shooting: Ukraine’s parliament on Tuesday ordered security forces to disarm illegal armed groups as police shut down the Kiev base of a far-right nationalist group prominent in the overthrow of Viktor Yanukovich after a shooting incident in which three people were wounded.

Ukraine’s new leaders acted after Monday night’s violence in Kiev city center, conscious that an increasing criminal climate could discredit the anti-Yanukovich uprising and be used by Moscow’s propaganda machine to show that law and order was breaking down in Ukraine.

The proposal approved by parliament linked a growing “criminal atmosphere” to what it described as “systematic provocations from foreign citizens in the eastern-southern regions of Ukraine and in Kiev” – suggesting that Russian agents or trouble-makers were stirring unrest in parts of the country.

Click on post title to read more…

Leader of Bulgarian nationalist Attack party Volen Siderov (R) arrives at Sofia’s investigative service building March 12, 2014.

Bulgarian nationalists may topple government over Russia sanctions: Bulgaria’s nationalist Attack party will work to topple the government if Sofia backs a new round of Western sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, the party’s leader told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Attack holds the balance of power in the Bulgarian parliament, and its threat is an extreme example of the domestic pressures European governments face in taking a position on the worst crisis in East-West relations since the Cold War.

With an eye on Crimea, Bosnian Serb leader calls for confederation: Emboldened by events in Ukraine, the leader of Bosnia’s Serbs called on Tuesday for Bosnia to become a confederation of three states, and again threatened a referendum on secession if the proposal fails.

Milorad Dodik, president of Bosnia’s autonomous Serb Republic, has long advocated Bosnia be scrapped as a state, but has grown increasingly bold as elections approach in October that threaten to shake his 8-year grip on power.

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev watches Russian troops marching as he takes part in a wreath laying ceremony at a World War Two Memorial in Crimea

As Russia growls, Swedes, Finns eye defence options, NATO: When Russian warplanes staged a mock bombing run on Sweden last year, air defences were caught napping. It was the middle of the night and no Swedish planes were scrambled.

Instead, Danish jets belonging to NATO’s Baltic mission based in Lithuania, took to the air to shadow the Russians.

The discussion that incident triggered over Sweden’s ability to defend itself has grown with Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine. As in neighbour and fellow EU member Finland, Swedes wonder whether to seek shelter in the U.S.-led NATO alliance, abandoning Stockholm’s two centuries of formal neutrality.

Russia tightens squeeze on Ukraine with gas price rise: Russian natural gas producer Gazprom announced a more than 40% increase in the price of gas for Ukraine on Tuesday, stepping up economic pressure on Kiev in its crisis in relations with Moscow.

Price rows have in the past led to cuts in Russian gas supplies to Ukraine and decreases in onward deliveries to Europe, but this time the financial blow to Kiev is set to be cushioned by a new International Monetary Fund loan package.

Poland, France, Germany call for Ukraine conference

Ukraine agrees to host NATO war games

Ten ways the Ukraine crisis may change the world

NATO suspends cooperation with Russia over Ukraine crisis: NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Russia on Tuesday in protest at its annexation of Crimea and ordered military planners to draft measures to strengthen its defences and reassure nervous eastern European countries.

Foreign ministers from the 28-nation, U.S.-led alliance were meeting for the first time since the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s Crimea region touched off the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War.

They agreed to “suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia”.

NATO officials said the decision could affect cooperation with Russia on Afghanistan in areas such as training counter-narcotics personnel, maintenance of Afghan air force helicopters and a transit route out of the war-torn country.

Contacts between NATO and Russia at ambassadorial level or higher can continue so they can discuss ways out of the crisis.

Share