(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti). People light cantles and place 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.
A British man who was supposed to take down an airplane with a shoe bomb in 2001 until he backed out of the conspiracy is set to resume testimony in the trial of Osama bin Laden's son-in-law with a description...More >>
A British man said Tuesday he backed out of an airplane shoe-bomb plot in 2001 after his parents said they wouldn't want a terrorist for a son, but not before successfully boarding and flying on planes over Europe with...More >>
A Tennessee man was to appear in court Tuesday on charges of kidnapping and murdering 20-year-old nursing student Holly Bobo, an indictment that came almost three years after her highly publicized disappearance.More >>
A Tennessee man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of kidnapping and killing 20-year-old nursing student Holly Bobo, whose highly publicized disappearance happened almost three years ago.More >>
Lawyers for two key figures in a political payback scandal ensnaring Gov. Chris Christie's administration will go in court to try to persuade a judge not to force them to turn over text messages and other...More >>
It's now up to a judge whether two key figures in a political payback scandal ensnaring Gov. Chris Christie's administration will have to turn over text messages and other private communications to New Jersey...More >>
AP Exclusive: Man named by Newsweek as bitcoin's creator strongly denies itMore >>
AP Exclusive: Man named by Newsweek as bitcoin's creator strongly denies itMore >>
By KARL RITTER and VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV Associated Press
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - Russia ordered 150,000 troops to test their combat readiness Wednesday in a show of force that prompted a blunt warning from the United States that any military intervention in Ukraine would be a "grave mistake."
Vladimir Putin's announcement of huge new war games came as Ukraine's protest leaders named a millionaire former banker to head a new government after the pro-Russian president went into hiding.
The new government, which is expected to be formally approved by parliament Thursday, will face the hugely complicated task of restoring stability in a country that is not only deeply divided politically but on the verge of financial collapse. Its fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the capital last week.
In Kiev's Independence Square, the heart of the protest movement against Yanukovych, the interim leaders who seized control after he disappeared proposed Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the country's new prime minister. The 39-year-old served as economy minister, foreign minister and parliamentary speaker before Yanukovych took office in 2010, and is widely viewed as a technocratic reformer who enjoys the support of the U.S.
Across Ukraine, the divided allegiances between Russia and the West were on full display as fistfights broke out between pro- and anti-Russia protesters in the strategic Crimea peninsula.
Amid the tensions, Putin put the military on alert for massive exercises involving most of the military units in western Russia, and announced measures to tighten security at the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet on Ukraine's Crimea peninsula.
The maneuvers will involve some 150,000 troops, 880 tanks, 90 aircraft and 80 navy ships, and are intended to "check the troops' readiness for action in crisis situations that threaten the nation's military security," Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in remarks carried by Russian news agencies.
The move prompted a sharp rebuke from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who warned Russia against any military intervention in Ukraine.
"Any kind of military intervention that would violate the sovereign territorial integrity of Ukraine would be a huge, a grave mistake," Kerry told reporters in Washington. "The territorial integrity of Ukraine needs to be respected."
In delivering the message, Kerry also announced that the Obama administration was planning $1 billion in loan guarantees for Ukraine and would consider additional direct assistance for the former Soviet republic.
Still, Kerry insisted that U.S. policy was not aimed at reducing Russia's influence in Ukraine or other former Soviet republics, but rather to see their people realize aspirations for freedom in robust democracies with strong economies.
"This is not 'Rocky IV'," Kerry said, referring to the 1985 Sylvester Stallone film in which an aging American boxer takes on a daunting Soviet muscleman. "It is not a zero-sum game. We do not view it through the lens of East-West, Russia-U.S. or anything else. We view it as an example of people within a sovereign nation who are expressing their desire to choose their future. And that's a very powerful force."
Russia denied the military maneuvers had any connection to the situation in Ukraine, but the massive show of force appeared intended to show both the new Ukrainian authorities and the West that the Kremlin was ready to use all means to protect its interests.
While Russia has pledged not to intervene in Ukraine's domestic affairs, it has issued a flurry of statements voicing concern about the situation of Russian speakers in Ukraine, including in the Crimea.
The strategic region, which hosts a major Russian naval base and where the majority of the population are Russian speakers, has strong ties to Moscow. It only became part of Ukraine in 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred jurisdiction from Russia - a move that was a mere formality until the 1991 Soviet collapse meant Crimea landed in an independent Ukraine.
Igor Korotchenko, a former colonel of the Russian military's General Staff, wrote a commentary in a Russian online newspaper, slon.ru, saying "if illegal armed formations attempt to overthrow the local government in Crimea by force, a civil war will start and Russia couldn't ignore it."
Still, while the exercises include most units from Russia's Western Military District and some from the Central Military District that spreads across the Urals and part of Siberia, it does not involve troops from the Southern Military District, such as the Black Sea Fleet and areas in southern Russia that neighbor Ukraine.
This seemed to signal that Moscow does not want to go too far. By flexing its military muscles Russia clearly wants to show the West it must seriously consider its interests in Ukraine, while avoiding inflaming tensions further.
In Crimea, fistfights broke out between rival demonstrators in the regional capital of Simferopol when some 20,000 Muslim Tatars rallying in support of Ukraine's interim leaders clashed with a smaller pro-Russian rally.
The protesters shouted and attacked each other with stones, bottles and punches, as police and leaders of both rallies struggled to keep the two groups apart.
One health official said at least 20 people were injured, while the local health ministry said one person died from an apparent heart attack. Tatar leaders said there was a second fatality when a woman was trampled to death by the crowd. Authorities did not confirm that.
The Tatars, a Muslim ethnic group who have lived in Crimea for centuries, were brutally deported in 1944 by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, but have since returned.
One of the first jobs for Yatsenyuk and other members of his new Cabinet will be seeking outside financial help from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. Economists say Ukraine is close to financial collapse, with its currency under pressure and its treasury almost empty. The acting finance minister has said Ukraine will need $35 billion in bailout loans to get through the next two years.
Any such deal will require a new prime minister to take unpopular steps, such as raising the price of gas to consumers. The state gas company charges as little as one-fifth of what it pays for imported Russian gas. The IMF unsuccessfully pressed Ukraine to halt the practice under two earlier bailouts, and halted aid when Kiev wouldn't comply.
The European Commission's top officials held a meeting Wednesday in Brussels to discuss how the 28-nation bloc can provide rapid financial assistance to Ukraine.
Vladimir Isachenkov reported from Moscow. Associated Press writers Maria Danilova and David McHugh in Kiev, Svetlana Fedas in Lviv, and Yuras Karmanau in Simferopol contributed to this report.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
The man who was once Russia's most famous prisoner says Russia is ruining its longstanding friendship with Ukraine by its aggressive and pro-separatist actions in Crimea.More >>
Russia said Monday it is drafting counterproposals to a U.S. plan for a negotiated solution to the Ukraine crisis, denouncing the new Western-backed government as an unacceptable "fait accompli" and claiming that...More >>
Friday, February 28 2014 3:59 PM EST2014-02-28 20:59:16 GMT
The northwest Georgia school is live-streaming video of this eagle nest on campus. The 24/7 view – the only eagle nest cam in the state – offers a unique window into the lives of these iconic raptors.From:More >>
Thousands of people are watching live in anticipation as a bald eagle at Berry College in northwest Georgia waits patiently for her eggs to hatch.More >>
Thursday, March 6 2014 9:29 AM EST2014-03-06 14:29:24 GMT
A South Carolina woman who drove her mini-van into the ocean at Daytona Beach with her three kids inside is from Cross in Berkeley County, according to authorities in Florida. Police say they interviewedMore >>
A South Carolina woman who drove her mini-van into the ocean at Daytona Beach with her three kids inside is from Cross in Berkeley County, according to authorities in Florida. Police say they interviewed her two hours before the Tuesday afternoon incident but the woman was released because she showed no signs of being suicidal.More >>
Tuesday, March 11 2014 3:48 PM EDT2014-03-11 19:48:04 GMT
The Tastee Cookie Company's 4th Annual "March Cash Contest" is underway. After three successful years of hosting the contest, this year's contest promises to be even better. As in past years, you will see More >>
The Tastee Cookie Company's 4th Annual "March Cash Contest" is underway. After three successful years of hosting the contest, this year's contest promises to be even better. As in past years, you will see the top three cash prizes of $100, $50, and $25. More >>