Attempts by the Ukrainian government to retake government buildings seized by pro-Russia protesters who have declared independence in regions in the east of the country could lead to "civil war," warns Russia—which says it will intervene if necessary to protect Ukraine's Russian-speakers and is watching developments closely. Ukrainian authorities say they have already forced out "terrorists" in Kharkiv who were calling for a referendum on seceding from the country but demonstrators remain in control of buildings in Donetsk and in Luhansk, where they have raided a weapons storage facility, Reuters reports. More:
- Moscow, which has tens of thousands of troops close to the border, is pushing Ukraine to adopt a federal system that would give regions more autonomy, reports CNN. Russia's foreign ministry claims American mercenaries have joined Ukrainian forces preparing for a crackdown.
- The parliament in Kiev, meanwhile, passed a bill banning calls for separatism. Some 230 of the 450 members of parliament approved the measure, but a fight broke out before the vote when the chief of Ukraine's Communist Party demanded that the wishes of the country's east be considered.
- NATO's secretary-general has warned Russia that there will be "grave consequences" if it intervenes further in Ukraine, the BBC reports. Such a move would be a "historic mistake," he said.
- The activists in eastern Ukraine seem to be hoping for Crimea-style annexation by Russia, though analysts aren't sure whether Moscow will comply, the New York Times notes. Russia's main goal, they suspect, is to destabilize the new government in Kiev ahead of elections next month.