MOSCOW, March 20 (Xinhua) -- All legal procedures governing accession of Crimea into Russia are to be completed this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday.
"Currently practical steps are being undertaken to implement the treaty signed by Russian, Crimea and Sevastopol leaders about accession of two new regions into Russia," Lavrov told a meeting in the ministry.
He noted that Moscow would continue protecting Russians abroad with political, diplomatic and other legal means.
"We will insist that the countries where our fellow citizens live, fully respect their rights and freedoms," Lavrov said.
On Wednesday, Russia begun to issue passports to the residents of Crimean Peninsula.
President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed the treaty with leaders of Crimea to accept the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol as part of Russian territory.
Russian parliament's lower house, the State Duma, is set to ratify the treaty on Thursday.
Crimea, a Ukrainian autonomous republic that once belonged to Russia, held a referendum Sunday with some 96.6 percent of voters opting to join Russia.
Russia hands out first passports to Crimean residents
MOSCOW, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Moscow has begun to issue Russian passports to residents in Crimea as the peninsula has signed an accession treaty with Russia, head of Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) said Wednesday. Full story
Obama rules out U.S. military action in Ukraine
WASHINGTON, March 19 (Xinhua) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that the United States would not take military action in Ukraine against Russia.
"We are not going to be getting into a military excursion in Ukraine," Obama said in an interview in Washington with KNSD, a California-based broadcaster. Full story
Germany suspends defense contract with Russia
BERLIN, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Germany has halted a Russian military contract for a German defense technology company, the German government said on Wednesday.
The Germany's economy ministry said in a statement that it would suspend a planned defense contract with Russia for the German firm Rheinmetall. Full story
Germany says G7 to meet on Ukraine at nuclear summit
BERLIN, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) will meet on the Ukrainian crisis at a nuclear summit in The Hague next week, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said on Wednesday.
Seibert confirmed in a statement that a meeting of the G7 leaders on the sidelines of the nuclear summit is being prepared. Full story
Ukrainian ministers barred from entering Crimea
KIEV, March 19 (Xinhua) -- Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Yarema and Defense Minister Igor Tenyukh have been barred from entering Crimea, the Minister of Social Policy Lyudmila Denisova said on Wednesday.
"We will call a meeting of the National Defense and Security Council over this issue," Denisova said without giving further details. Full story