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live Live Blog: Ukraine Election Run-Up

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took part in the presentation of the construction of the Syretsko-Pecherskaya subway line in Kyiv on March 19.

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-- Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who is a leading candidate in the country's March 31 presidential election, has defended her support for Kyiv's 2014 decision not to use military force to resist Russia's annexation of the Black Sea region of Crimea.

-- President Vladimir Putin marked the fifth anniversary of what Moscow considers the day Crimea became part of Russia by visiting Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula, as NATO, the United States, and the European Union again condemned what they called the "illegal" land grab.

-- Now, Facebook advertisers in Ukraine need the social network's authorization to reach users -- and ads from annexed Crimea and separatist-held areas are banned outright. But 13 days before an election, is it too little, too late?

*Time stamps on the blog refer to local time in Ukraine

21:41 15.3.2019

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20:07 15.3.2019

From Canada's foreign minister:

20:01 15.3.2019

Oleg Deripaska citing "basic principles" of justice...

19:55 15.3.2019

19:15 15.3.2019

Here's an updated version of an RFE/RL news story we posted earlier:

U.S., EU Impose New Sanctions On Russia Over Ukraine

The United States, together with the European Union and Canada, imposed new sanctions on March 15 on more than a dozen Russian officials and businesses in response to the country's "continued aggression in Ukraine."

"Today's action targets individuals and entities playing a role in Russia's unjustified attacks on Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait, the purported annexation of Crimea, and backing of illegitimate separatist government elections in eastern Ukraine," the U.S. Treasury said in a March 15 statement.

Six officials were targeted, along with six Russian defense companies, and two Russian energy and construction firms operating in Crimea.

The six defense firms operating in Crimea were targeted for misappropriating Ukrainian state assets to provide services to the Russian military during the 2014 annexation, it said.

Four of the six Russian officials targeted by the measure were involved in the attack near the Kerch Strait attack in November off the coast of Crimea, the Treasury said.

Moscow has said the three Ukrainian Navy vessels had illegally entered Russian territorial waters, a claim denied by Kyiv.

"The United States and our transatlantic partners will not allow Russia's continued aggression against Ukraine to go unchecked," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

"This joint initiative with our partners in the European Union and Canada reinforces our shared commitment to impose targeted and meaningful sanctions in response to the Kremlin’s attempts to disregard international norms and undermine Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity," he added.

Earlier in Brussels, the European Union added eight Russian officials to its sanctions list for their involvement in the November attack.

The EU sanctions, imposed after Russia seized control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014 and began supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine, now includes 170 individuals and 44 entities.

The conflict between Ukrainian government forces and Moscow-backed separatists has left some 13,000 people dead since April 2014.

With reporting by Rikard Jozwiak in Brussels, AP, and Reuters
18:34 15.3.2019

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18:19 15.3.2019

A few tweets from the U.S. special envoy for Ukraine:

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