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Diplomatic exit for Ukraine? Talks, $15b in EU aid


PARIS (AP) -- The European Union prepared $15 billion in aid to Ukraine and top diplomats from the West and Russia gathered in Paris on Wednesday to defuse tensions over the Russian military takeover of the strategic Crimean Peninsula.

NATO prepared to take up the issue directly with Russia in an extraordinary meeting of the military alliance, originally created as a counterbalance to the Soviet Union, and an international team of military observers headed to tense Crimea.

The ultimate goal in Paris is to get the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in the same room, negotiating directly in the fast-moving dispute that has raised tensions to nearly Cold War levels.

"It will be a test this afternoon of whether Russia is prepared to sit down with Ukraine, and we will strongly recommend that they do so," British Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

On the verge of economic collapse, Ukraine accused Russia of a military invasion after pro-Russian troops took over Crimea on Saturday, placing forces around its ferry, military bases and border posts. Moscow does not recognize the new Ukrainian leadership in Kiev that ousted the pro-Russian president, and raised the pressure by threatening to end discounts on natural gas supplies.

Wednesday's offer by the European Union matched the Russian bailout for fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych took the Russian loans instead of a wide-ranging trade and economic agreement with the EU, which fuelled the protests that eventually led to his ouster.

On Tuesday, the U.S. readied a $1 billion aid package.

"The situation in Ukraine is a test of our capability and resolve to stabilize our neighborhood and to provide new opportunities for many, not just a few," European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, speaking in Spain ahead of meetings planned with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris, warned against Western support of what Moscow views as a coup. He said that could encourage government takeovers elsewhere.

"If we indulge those who are trying to rule our great, kind historic neighbor, we must understand that a bad example is infectious," Lavrov said.

Wednesday's Paris gathering, originally scheduled to deal with the Syrian refugee crisis, came after Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to step back from the brink of war, but the crisis is far from resolved.

"This is my first trip to such an important venue where the Ukrainian future, maybe the future of the region, will be decided," Andriy Deshchytsia, Ukraine's foreign minister, said of the meetings in Paris. "We want to keep neighborly relations with the Russian people. We want to settle this peacefully."

On the flight from Kiev to Paris, Deshchytsia told reporters that Ukraine was unlikely to go to war to prevent Russia from annexing Crimea but said doing so wouldn't be necessary because Russia would be unwilling to suffer the resulting economic penalties and diplomatic isolation.

Russia has suggested that it will meet any sanctions imposed by Western governments with a tough response, and Putin has warned that those measures could incur serious "mutual damage."

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe sent a team of 35 unarmed military personnel to Crimea on Wednesday at the fledgling government's request.

"They will not be contented with assurances that these people are volunteers, who bought their uniforms in a shop," Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said. The hope is to learn "who is in power there and conclusions the OSCE should draw from that."


Juergen Baetz reported from Brussels. Associated Press writers Laura Mills in Moscow, Monika Scislowska in Warsaw, Poland, and Lara Jakes, Greg Keller, and Sylvie Corbet in Paris, contributed.

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crabbyoldart March 05 2014 at 12:26 PM

In front of the eyes of the world is blatant money-laundering.....Russia is owed $38 billion dollars from Ukraine.....a financial package is being prepared by both the EU and the US to assist Ukraine. Ukraine will pay Russia who could use the infuse of $$ to pay for the uber-expensive Olympics. Russia will get their $$, Ukraine will do business with BOTH the EU and Russia, the ousted president of Ukraine will not return to power, and the entire affair will be mellowed out.....
Yes, some people were killed in the protests....yes, Russia did move into Crimea....yes, everyone rattled their sabres.....and in front of our very eyes, money was exchanged in the name of peace....but....was it real, or was it theatre? (except for those protesters who were sacrificed for graft....which usually happens on the world stage. Not trying to be insensitive to humanity because silence promotes the greatest evil - the heroes in this are the protesters, to be sure -- but, when $$ need moved from one place to another without the common people knowing exactly why - all sorts of antics occur to move it - and anyone who thinks humanity is part of the equation - no, it isn't - SACRIFICE is part of the equation.) And THAT is why I am Crabby Old Art - absolutely hate liars and cheats and grafters - the best definition of most governments who usually do wag the dog.

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1 reply
Kat4Hat crabbyoldart March 05 2014 at 12:42 PM

This peace will not last long: Ukraine has already had this scenario earlier but without blood shedding. So the difference in this case is only there were several poor who died. This will cost 35 billion dollars to the U.S. and the EU.

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oneriviman March 05 2014 at 11:13 AM

Way to throw tax payers money away! Think of the United States first!

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4 replies
gatorgene51 March 05 2014 at 11:12 AM

I say stay out of it all, The US cannot be the big brother to the rest of the world, hell we cannot even handle our affairs

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2 replies
Lee_O2 gatorgene51 March 05 2014 at 11:16 AM

America is a maritime nation, our way of life depends on trade. The nation cannot be isolationist and Top economy too. We are in the game or on the sidelines and as a spectator, there is no pay.

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jybingdownwind gatorgene51 March 05 2014 at 11:48 AM

That's how we ended up at war both in Europe and the Pacific at the same time -- by trying to stay out of things,

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foxyconserv March 05 2014 at 11:10 AM

So now, that 0bama feels as if he "handled" this situation, I assume another lavish vacation is in order.

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2 replies
Lee_O2 foxyconserv March 05 2014 at 11:35 AM

In the midst of a crisis here you go with a non-sense statement. What would you suggest as a solution to the situation? Do you have any worthwhile pointers to share?

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jybingdownwind foxyconserv March 05 2014 at 11:49 AM

"Says President Barack Obama "has taken 92 days of vacation since he was sworn in," compared to 367 for President George W. Bush at the same point in his presidency. "

Your sceenname says it all. You've been spoon fed lies, and you believe them.

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nancebillie109 March 05 2014 at 11:05 AM

With two nephews in the army and a niece in the navy I worry constantly about thier saftey. The boys have been to the mid east several times. I am freaking tired of everyone elses problems. Is this undiplomatic of me? I don't give a damn!

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tneill1031 March 05 2014 at 1:00 PM

Let the EU pony up the money, This is more of their problem than ours, besides we're BROKE.

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bbnpl4545 March 05 2014 at 1:13 PM

NASA Better get busy and build a new space ship. Looks like we are going to need it.

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quincy_maxwell March 05 2014 at 10:49 AM

Since these so-called "military" are not a part of the Russian army, then are they not in violation of trespassing and the laws of that country? Seems to me that they can be legally removed because they don't have any identities, nor are they part of any Russian military service. Yes, we know they are, but since they are not willing to prove it....why not use that against them?

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bjamebon3 March 05 2014 at 10:47 AM

Geez ,this has fast gone from trouble to real trouble. These Ukraine people mostly don't want Russia in there country. You have to remember that the Russians bullied them into joining the Soviet Union ,but most of all under the Russians these same people starved to death b/c Stalin insisted on the Communist Farm System. Believe they don't want any parts of Communism again . This country went through living hell under Communism ,and got the Russians out ,and an't looking back.

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1 reply
sandinbox bjamebon3 March 05 2014 at 8:05 PM

Thanks bjamebon3 you understand and communicate the situation very well....But Americans want to know why they should help Ukrainians. They did the same thing in WW2 and look what happened we're still paying for that...and so much blood was spilled by comrade stalin and hitler....now here comes another clone....mr putin...

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zackey51302 March 05 2014 at 1:26 PM

Stop thinking aid /Unless the aid is for the US people Taxes are to high stop giving my money away

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