Evgenii Feldman, the Moscow-based photographer who took the picture, reported
that locals resented the development. "The villagers don’t want to be on the
front-line,” he said. "In Chongar, the school has been closed since
Wednesday: on the internet, locals are talking about the impossibility of
studying under the fire of armoured personnel carriers.”
foreign minister again called for direct negotiations with Russia to resolve
differences over the revolution that triggered the collapse of the
Moscow-linked government of President Viktor Yanukovych.
"Our priority is a peaceful settlement of Crimea conflict” said Andriy
Deshchytsa. "We will not give up Crimea and will do all possible to protect
Ukrainian borders and territorial integrity.”
But Sergei Lavrov, the Russia foreign minister, castigated attempts to portray
Russia as responsible for confrontation in Ukraine and said the Kremlin
would not negotiate until it was treated differently.
"This crisis was not started by us,” he said. "We are ready to continue
dialogue on the understanding that this dialogue should be honest and
partner-like, without attempts to portray us as one of the sides in the
Crimea’s officials vowed to press ahead with its proposed referendum on
joining the Russian Federation next weekend.
Sergei Aksyonov, the premier of the region said: "No one is able to cancel it.
It has been called at short notice to avoid provocations, as the situation
in Ukraine is quite tense”.
Russia also warned that it had the grounds to stop American inspections of its
nuclear arsenal as authorised by arms controls treaties.
"We are ready to take this step in response to the announcement by the
Pentagon about stopping cooperation between the defence institutions of
Russia and the United States,” a statement said.
The developments came as a senior Pentagon official admitted that it had
detected a Russian troop build up around Crimea, days before the Kremlin
seized control of the area.
Michael Flynn, the head of the US Defence Intelligence Agency, said the US was
aware of the Russian troop movements which preceded the take-over in Crimea.
"I think for easily seven to 10 days leading up to the Russian troops as we
see them now in the Crimea, we were providing very solid reporting ... where
we move from one level of a condition of warning... to one where we believe
things are imminent,” he said.
As the Russian forces in Crimea solidified divisions between the territory and
Ukraine, pro-Russian protesters pressed their claim for a vote on their
future across the eastern half of the country.
In Ukraine’s eastern cities, which are dominated by Russian speakers, hundreds
of people gathered in squares to denounce the new Kiev government as front
for extreme Right-wing movements and call for a vote on their future status.
At the feet of a Lenin statue in Donetsk, hundreds of Russians responded to a
call to rally in support of the local protest leader, Pavel Gubarev, who was
arrested on Thursday after proclaiming himself the people’s governor.
Organisers called Mr Gubarev a victim of political repression and demanded the
release of the 30-year businessman, who briefly seized control of the city
hall last week.
"We are calling for the freedom of Pavel,” said Robert Donia, the organiser.
"We want a vote on the status of the region. The people are for a
In a red-tented canopy, a couple offering a book to sign-up for a referendum
were doing a brisk trade. On other side of the marble platform stood a table
with a box in which people could drop written ballots.
Lilila Khardasheva, a doctor, said Eastern Ukraine needed a vote on its own
autonomy because people were fearful of more militant elements in the new
pro-Western coalition installed in Kiev. She said Donetsk was putting its
faith in Vladimir Putin, the Russian president.
"If Putin came on to this stage, the whole city would be here to cheer him,”
Similar scale protests were reported in Kharkiv, a Russian-language city that
is the country’s second-biggest.
British computer experts also reported that Ukraine was coming under a
widening barrage of hostility that appears to originate from cyber attacks
Dozens of computer networks in Ukraine have been infected by an aggressive new
cyber weapon called Snake. It bears similarities with Stuxnet, the malware
that disrupted Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010.
Snake - also known as Ouroboros after the serpent in Greek mythology - gives
remote attackers "full remote access to the compromised system”, BAE Systems