Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ukraine crisis: No sign of Russian troop pullout - Nato

April 1 (BBC News Europe) Nato is not seeing a Russian troop pullout from the border with Ukraine, the military alliance's chief has said. Anders Fogh Rasmussen again stressed that the best way to solve the crisis was through "a political dialogue". Nato foreign ministers are now discussing ways to help Ukraine and also reassure allies in Eastern Europe. This comes after Russia's takeover last month of Ukraine's Crimea region. Meanwhile, Moscow warned Kiev against integration with Nato. It is the first time ministers from the 28-member Nato bloc have convened since the annexation of Crimea. The alliance has also bolstered air drills to be held over the Baltic states. On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel he had ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian troops near the eastern border of Ukraine, according to the German government. Moscow is believed to have massed tens of thousands of soldiers there in recent days, causing alarm in Kiev and the West.
Russian energy firm Gazprom is increasing the price it charges Ukraine for gas from Tuesday. Gazprom's chief executive Alexei Miller said the price of Russian gas for Ukraine had gone up to $385.5 (£231) per 1,000 cubic metres in the second quarter of 2014 from the previous rate of $268.50. Mr Miller added that Ukraine's unpaid gas bills to Russia stood at $1.7bn.
In other developments on Tuesday
  • Ukraine's parliament ordered security services to disarm all "illegal armed groups", following Monday night's shooting in Kiev that involved a member of the radical Right Sector group
  • MPs in Kiev voted to allow to hold joint military exercises with Nato and other nations on Ukrainian soil
  • Russia's upper house of parliament voted to pull out of a treaty with Ukraine on the Black Sea Fleet's presence in Crimea