UK & World News
Ukraine 'Will Not Give Up Crimea To Russia'
Ukraine's acting foreign minister has said the country "will not give up Crimea to anyone", amid continued tensions in region.
Andrii Deshchytsia spoke to Sky News and insisted Crimea, which was given to Ukraine by the Soviet Union in 1954, "is and will be Ukrainian territory".
His intervention came as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said his country was open to an "honest, equal" dialogue over the crisis.
Uniformed Russian forces have surrounded Ukrainian bases since taking control of the peninsula last week, although Mr Lavrov denied Moscow has any direct role.
On the Crimea regional border, Ukrainian guards claimed one of their observation planes had come under fire while on patrol, but there were no injuries.
Foreign observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe have also been turned away from the region after warning shots were fired as they approached.
A source in the monitoring mission said "probably three shots" were fired as a convoy approached a checkpoint manned by pro-Russian forces, but added the shots did not seem to have been directed at them.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama discussed the latest developments in the crisis with David Cameron and also called French President Francois Hollande and Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi to talk about Ukraine.
The US President praised the European Union and the United States for the "unified position" over the military incursion.
Speaking in a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Obama said European leaders "agreed on the need for Russia to pull back its forces".
A White House spokesman said the two leaders had "grave concerns" over Russia's intervention and discussed the need for dialogue between Moscow and Kiev.
The President also held conference calls about Ukraine with the leaders of Lithuania, Latvia,and Estonia.
However, Mr Lavrov used a news conference to repeat Russian attacks on the current interim government.
"(It) isn't independent," he said. "It depends, to our great regret, on radical nationalists who have seized power with arms."
Nationalist groups are using "intimidation and terror" to control Ukraine, he added.
Mr Lavrov earlier labelled planned US sanctions on those Washington holds responsible for the intervention as "hasty and reckless steps" which could harm relations between the two countries.
"Sanctions ... would inevitably hit the United States like a boomerang," a statement issued by Russia's foreign ministry said.
The measures include bans on travel to America and the freezing of US assets, although a US official has said Russian President Vladimir Putin was not on the list of those to be sanctioned.
Russian forces now have complete control of Crimea, although Moscow claims the only troops it has there are the 11,000 based in Sevastopol - a claim ridiculed by the West.
More than 30,000 Russian troops are estimated to be in the disputed region, which will hold a referendum on becoming part of Russia on March 16.
Late on Friday, around 20 pro-Russian militants stormed a Ukrainian missile defence airbase in Sevastopol in two transporter trucks and entered into negotiations with the commander of the airbase.
Around 100 Ukrainian troops are understood to be stationed at the base, where the tense stand-off was eventually resolved.
The crisis in Ukraine was sparked when the deposed former President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a European Union trade deal for closer ties with Russia.
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