HRABOVE/DONETSK Ukraine (Reuters) – Ukraine accused Russia and pro-Moscow rebels on Saturday of destroying evidence of “international crimes” as guerrillas and foreign observers faced off over access to the wreckage of the downed Malaysian airliner.
As Kiev raised the stakes by saying it had evidence that a Russian fired the missile widely assumed to have killed all 298 aboard on Thursday, a separatist leader blamed Ukraine for the delay and called on Moscow to help in recovering bodies starting to rot after two days in baking summer heat on the steppe.
KIEV/SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) – Shots were fired in Crimea to warn off an unarmed international team of monitors and at a Ukrainian observation plane, as the standoff between occupying Russian forces and besieged Ukrainian troops intensified.
Russia’s seizure of the Black Sea peninsula, which began 10 days ago, has so far been bloodless, but its forces have become increasingly aggressive towards Ukrainian troops, who are trapped in bases and have offered no resistance.
KIEV/SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) – The mood darkened in Russian-occupied Crimea on Saturday after overnight confrontations between Russian troops and besieged Ukrainian soldiers raised tensions on the ground in the biggest East-West face-off since the Cold War.
Pressure levels have increased markedly in the two days since the region’s pro-Moscow leadership declared that it is now part of Russia and announced a March 16 referendum to confirm it.
KIEV/SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) – Two days before Russian forces began the operation to seize Crimea, somebody threw two Molotov cocktails through the window of Black Sea TV.
“It was a warning to us, so that we would stop,” recalls Alexandra Kvitko, editor-in-chief of the only independent television station in the southern Ukrainian region. “But we continued.”
KIEV/BALACLAVA, Ukraine (Reuters) – The West faced its biggest confrontation with Russia since the Cold War and Ukraine marshaled its forces for defense after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the right to invade his neighbor.
Ethnic Russian forces have already bloodlessly seized Crimea, an isolated Black Sea peninsula where most of the population are Russian and Moscow has a naval base, and sought to disarm the small Ukrainian contingents there on Sunday.
CAIRO (Reuters) – The Muslim Brotherhood said on Thursday it had proposed through an EU go-between a framework for talks to resolve Egypt’s political crisis, its first formal announcement of an offer for negotiations since President Mohamed Mursi was toppled.
Brotherhood official Gehad el-Haddad, who represented the movement in previous EU-facilitated talks, told Reuters the proposal had been made to envoy Bernardino Leon before a visit on Wednesday by EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton.
CAIRO (Reuters) – Supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi called on Wednesday for more mass demonstrations, declaring a “day of steadfastness” to protest against the formation of a new interim cabinet, which began its first day on the job.
The army, which removed Egypt’s first freely elected president from power two weeks ago, accused Mursi’s supporters of inciting armed demonstrations near military bases and trying to turn a political dispute into a religious quarrel.
CAIRO (Reuters) – The first senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since the army toppled its elected president meets officials on Monday to urge them to swiftly restore democracy, while thousands of supporters of the ousted Islamist leader take to the streets.
Deputy Secretary of State William Burns arrived in a divided capital where both sides are furious at the United States, the superpower which supports Egypt with $1.5 billion in annual aid, mostly for the army that deposed President Mohamed Mursi.
CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s interim prime minister was assembling his cabinet on Sunday to lead the country under an army-backed “road map” to restore civil rule, with peace having returned to the streets after the military removed President Mohamed Mursi.
Hazem el-Beblawi, a 76-year-old liberal economist appointed interim prime minister last week, is tapping technocrats and liberals for a government to run the country under a temporary constitution until parliamentary elections in about six months.
CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt announced a criminal investigation on Saturday against deposed Islamist president Mohamed Mursi, with prosecutors saying they were examining complaints of spying, inciting violence and ruining the economy.
Egypt’s first freely elected leader has been held at an undisclosed location since the army removed him from power on July 3, but has not yet been charged with any crime. In recent days Washington has called for him to be freed and for the authorities to stop arresting leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood.