Interpol looks at Yanukovich warrant
International police agency Interpol said on Thursday it was reviewing a request by Ukrainian authorities for it to issue a so-called "red notice" for the arrest of Viktor Yanukovich, who was ousted as its president.
"A request by Ukrainian authorities for an Interpol Red Notice, or international wanted persons alert, for the arrest of Viktor Yanukovich on charges including abuse of power and murder has been received," the France-based agency said in a statement.
The request was received on March 5, it said, without giving any other details.
Yanukovich, a Russian ally, was ousted on February 22 after months of protests in Kiev over his decision to pull Ukraine out of a trade deal with the European Union under Russian pressure.
The former president appeared in southern Russia on February 28 where he has taken refuge since fleeing Ukraine.
Interpol uses red notices to inform its 190 member countries that an arrest warrant has been issued for an individual by a judicial authority. The notice seeks the location and arrest of wanted persons with a view to extradition or similar lawful action.
Meanwhile, the US military will send 12 F-16 fighter jets and 300 service personnel to Poland next week for a training exercise whose scope was expanded in response to the crisis in neighbouring Ukraine, Poland's defence minister said on Thursday.
Tomasz Siemoniak said the training exercise, centred on the Lask air force base in central Poland, was originally to have been smaller and involved only transport aircraft. He said Poland requested it be beefed up after Russia's intervention in Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula.
Standing at a news briefing alongside the minister, US ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull said: "When we face such a dramatic challenge for our security, we need to reassure our allies that our security guarantees are valid."
The European Union suspended talks with Russia on a wide-ranging economic pact and on a visa deal on Thursday, punishing Moscow for its military incursion into the Crimean Peninsula of Ukraine.
EU leaders made the announcement at an emergency summit and threatened further sanctions if Russia does not quickly engage in talks to end the crisis.
The move in Brussels came on the heels of sanctions by the Obama administration in Washington, DC, which imposed visa restrictions on pro-Russian opponents of the new Ukrainian government in Kiev, also clearing the way for financial sanctions.
The sanctions on both side of the Atlantic aimed to rein in Europe's gravest geopolitical crisis in a generation.
Van Rompuy called the Ukraine crisis the "most serious challenge to security on our continent since the Balkan wars" of the 1990s.
The EU put on ice talks on a wide-ranging economic agreement and on granting Russian citizens visa-free travel within the 28-nation bloc, a goal that Moscow has been pursuing for years.
The decision followed tough negotiations between member states divided over how to react to the Russian aggression.
"Not everyone will be satisfied with the decision but I should say that we did much more together than one could have expected several hours ago," said Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
He stressed that further sanctions will kick in in the coming days unless Russia stops its "aggressive steps" on the Crimean peninsula and engages in a meaningful dialogue to defuse the crisis.
Tusk said there was "no enthusiasm" in Europe on sanctioning Russia, but he called the moves inevitable given the country's blatant violation of international rights by its actions in Crimea.