CRISIS IN UKRAINE: What Will Putin Do Next? - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

CRISIS IN UKRAINE: What Will Putin Do Next?

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WASHINGTON (AP) - Analysts and former Obama administration officials say Russia is unlikely to pull back its forces in Ukraine's Crimea peninsula, forcing the United States and Europe into a more limited strategy of trying to prevent President Vladimir Putin from making advances elsewhere in the former Soviet republic.
   
It's an unsettling scenario for President Barack Obama, who is under pressure to show he has leverage over Putin in a deepening conflict between East and West.
   
The U.S. has so far threatened Russia with economic sanctions, as well as a series of modest measures that include canceling trade talks with Moscow and suspending plans to attend an international summit in Russia. But those steps have done little to persuade the Russian leader to pull his forces back from Crimea.

Ukraine premier: Crimea will remain in Ukraine

    
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Ukraine's new prime minister tells The Associated Press that Crimea must remain part of Ukraine, but may be granted more local powers.
    
Arseniy Yatsenyuk says a special task force could be established "to consider what kind of additional autonomy the Crimean Republic could get."
    
The prime minister, approved by parliament on Feb. 27, denies a report that Ukraine is negotiating with the United States for deployment of U.S. missile defenses in exchange for financial help.
    
He tells the AP, "This is not true." Yatsenyuk says, "We have no talks with the government of the United States of America on any kind of deployment of any military forces."
    
Discussions on Ukraine in Paris, Brussels
    
PARIS (AP) - Top diplomats from the West and from Russia are meeting in Paris today to defuse tensions over Russia's military takeover of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.
    
The ultimate goal of the meeting is to get the Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers in the same room, negotiating directly.
    
Also today, NATO is taking up the issue directly with Russia in a meeting of the military alliance in Brussels. And an international team of military observers is headed to Crimea.

EU to provide Ukraine with aid worth $15 billion
    
BRUSSELS (AP) - The head of the European Union's executive arm says the bloc is ready to provide Ukraine a $15 billion aid package in loans and grants over the coming years.
    
Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Wednesday it will include 1.6 billion euros in loans and 1.4 billion euros in grants from the EU as well as 3 billion euros in fresh credit from the European Investment Bank.
    
Barroso didn't immediately provide details over what time the money will be disbursed and which conditions on overhauling its economy the government in Kiev will have to meet.
    
The United States announced a $1 billion aid package in energy subsidies Tuesday.
    
Kiev estimates it needs $35 billion in international rescue loans over the next two years.
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