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

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...

Diplomatic exit for Ukraine? Talks, $15b in EU aid
An Ukrainian man wearing camouflage uniform looks at his phone in Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Stepping back from the brink of war, Vladimir Putin talked tough but cooled tensions in the Ukraine crisis Tuesday, saying Russia has no intention "to fight the Ukrainian people" but reserves the right to use force. As the Russian president held court in his personal residence, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Kiev's fledgling government and urged Putin to stand down. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Anti-Yanukovych protesters guard a barricade in a street heading to Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Stepping back from the brink of war, Vladimir Putin talked tough but cooled tensions in the Ukraine crisis Tuesday, saying Russia has no intention "to fight the Ukrainian people" but reserves the right to use force. As the Russian president held court in his personal residence, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Kiev's fledgling government and urged Putin to stand down. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Ukrainian men wearing camouflage uniforms march along a street at a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police at Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. Stepping back from the brink of war, Vladimir Putin talked tough but cooled tensions in the Ukraine crisis Tuesday, saying Russia has no intention "to fight the Ukrainian people" but reserves the right to use force. As the Russian president held court in his personal residence, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Kiev's fledgling government and urged Putin to stand down. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Flowers surround a stone with a photo of Ustim Golodniuk killed in clashes with the police at the Shrine of the Fallen in Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The Shrine of the Fallen, is located on Institutska Street, honors the fallen "Heroes" of the "Heavenly Sotnya" (Hundred). Over the course of the Euro Maidan protests, almost 100 protesters were killed by police. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
An Ukrainian woman wearing camouflage uniform pays respect at the site were her friend Ustim Golodniuk was killed in clashes with the police at the Shrine of the Fallen in Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 5, 2014. The Shrine of the Fallen, located on Institutska Street, honors the fallen "Heroes" of the "Heavenly Sotnya" (Hundred). Over the course of the Euro Maidan protests, almost 100 protesters were killed by police. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, centre, hosts the Budapest Memorandum Ministerial meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia, 3rd right, and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, 2nd left, at U.S. ambassador's residence in Paris, Wednesday March 5, 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is in Paris where he is expected to hold talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, about the crisis in Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula which is now controlled by Russian troops. (AP Photo/Kevin Lamarque, Pool)
Pro Russian soldiers guarding Ukraine's infantry base in Perevalne, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow firing warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Pro Russian soldiers guarding Ukraine's infantry base in Perevalne, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow firing warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
Local residents chopping wood for a bonfire as Russian soldier guards the gate of an Ukrainian infantry base in Perevalne, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 4, 2014. Tensions remained high in the strategic Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea with troops loyal to Moscow firing warning shots to ward off protesting Ukrainian soldiers. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
A protester sets light to a portrait of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich during a protest against the violence in Ukraine at Prague´s Wenceslas Square, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo,CTK/Michal Krumphanzl) SLOVAKIA OUT
A woman reacts at a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police at Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges following the ouster of the Russia-backed president. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A woman reacts at a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police at Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges following the ouster of the Russia-backed president. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A pro-European Union activist wearing a mask depicting Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich smokes in Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Ukraine was thrown into crisis last month when President Viktor Yanukovych suddenly backed away from a long-awaited political and economic agreement with the European Union, deciding to focus instead on restoring trade ties with Russia. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
An anti-Yanukovych protester holds an Ukrainian flag in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges following the ouster of the Russia-backed president. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
Two women light a candle at a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police at Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges following the ouster of the Russia-backed president. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
A photo of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is seen on a dart board on Kiev's Independence Square on February 25, 2014. Ukraine's interim leader on February 25 delayed the appointment of a new unity government until February 27 as the country sought to find a way out of its most serious crisis since independence. AFP PHOTO/BULENT KILIC (Photo credit should read BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-Yanukovych protesters march in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges following the ouster of the Russia-backed president. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
Women holding flowers pass by barricades in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges following the ouster of the Russia-backed president. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
An anti-Yanukovych protester punches a suspected thief after being captured in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges following the ouster of the Russia-backed president. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated. (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
An anti-Yanukovych protester cries near a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police at Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges following the ouster of the Russia-backed president. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
An anti-Yanukovych protester, wearing a Ukrainian flag with the name of his village written across it, places flowers at a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police at Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges following the ouster of the Russia-backed president. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Anti-Yanukovych protesters protect the main doors of the central Post Office occupied by demonstrators in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. The Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday delayed the formation of a new government, reflecting political tensions and economic challenges following the ouster of the Russia-backed president. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Turchinov, who was named Ukraine's interim leader after President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital, said that a new government should be in place by Thursday, instead of Tuesday, as he had earlier indicated. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A man lights a candle at a memorial for the people killed in clashes with police at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine's acting government issued an arrest warrant Monday for President Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of mass crimes against the protesters who stood up for months against his rule. Russia sharply questioned its authority, calling it an "armed mutiny." Yanukovych himself has reportedly fled to the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, a pro-Russian area in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton places flowers at a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police in central Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine's acting government issued an arrest warrant Monday for President Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of mass crimes against the protesters who stood up for months against his rule. Russia sharply questioned its authority, calling it an "armed mutiny." (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)
Rosary beads hang on a barricade in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine's acting government issued a warrant Monday for the arrest of President Viktor Yanukovych, last reportedly seen in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accusing him of mass crimes against protesters who stood up for months against his rule. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
A woman cries near a memorial for the people killed in clashes with the police at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine's acting government issued a warrant Monday for the arrest of President Viktor Yanukovych, last reportedly seen in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accusing him of mass crimes against protesters who stood up for months against his rule. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
People walk past barricades along a street heading to Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine's acting government issued a warrant Monday for the arrest of President Viktor Yanukovych, last reportedly seen in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accusing him of mass crimes against protesters who stood up for months against his rule. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A portrait of Ukraine's embattled president Viktor Yanukovych is used for a game of darts at Independence Square in Kiev, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine?s acting government issued an arrest warrant Monday for Yanukovych, accusing him of mass crimes against the protesters who stood up for months against his rule. (AP Photo/ Marko Drobnjakovic)
Ukrainian sailors march in the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sevastopol in the Crimea, Ukraine Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine's acting government issued an arrest warrant Monday for President Viktor Yanukovych, accusing him of mass crimes against the protesters who stood up for months against his rule. Yanukovych himself has reportedly fled to pro-Russian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
A coffin with the body of a protester killed in recent clashes is carried through the crowd in Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's recent unrest, Ukraine, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. Ukraine?s acting government issued a warrant Monday for the arrest of President Viktor Yanukovych, last reportedly seen in the pro-Russian Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, accusing him of mass crimes against protesters who stood up for months against his rule. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko addresses the crowd in central Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Hours after being released from prison, former Ukrainian prime minister and opposition icon Yulia Tymoshenko praised the demonstrators killed in violence this week as heroes.(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
People raise their fists during a rally in Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, in Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Protesters in the Ukrainian capital claimed full control of the city Saturday following the signing of a Western-brokered peace deal aimed at ending the nation's three-month political crisis. The nation's embattled president, Viktor Yanukovych, reportedly had fled the capital for his support base in Ukraine's Russia-leaning east. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A protester waves an EU flag at the Ukrainian President Yanukovych's countryside residence in Mezhyhirya, Kiev's region, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb, 22, 2014. Viktor Yanukovych is not in his official residence of Mezhyhirya, which is about 20 kilometres north of the capital. Ukrainian security and volunteers from among Independence Square protesters have joined forces to protect the presidential countryside retreat from vandalism and looting. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A woman and child walk past a poster of Yulia Tymoshenko, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. The party of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko says that she has been released from prison. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
Protesters celebrate as they ride atop of a truck, in central Kiev, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Ukraine's embattled president is calling the country's political crisis a coup and says it resembles the rise of Nazis in the 1930s. Viktor Yanukovych also says he has no intention of resigning or leaving the country. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
People wave Ukrainian flags as they enter Ukrainian President Yanukovych's countryside-residence in Mezhyhirya, Kiev's region, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb, 22, 2014. Viktor Yanukovych is not in his official residence of Mezhyhirya, which is about 20 km (12.5 miles north of the capital. Ukrainian security and volunteers from among Independence Square protesters have joined forces to protect the presidential countryside retreat from vandalism and marauding. Yanukovych left Kiev for his support base in the country's Russian-speaking east, but an aide said that he has no intention of abandoning power.(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION


BY LORI HINNANT AND JUERGEN BAETZ
ASSOCIATED PRESS

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.

Read Full Story

People are Reading

The Latest from our Partners
1 - 3 of 15