Slatest PM: Tensions Rise With Reports of an Ultimatum From Russia

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 3 2014 5:03 PM

Slatest PM: Tensions Rise With Reports of an Ultimatum From Russia

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The float displaying a giant likeness of Russian President Vladimir Putin having a muscle like a bomb reading 'Crimea' on his arm during the traditional Rose Monday parade in Duesseldorf, western Germany on March 3, 2014

Photo by Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

A Russian Ultimatum?: New York Times: "The besieged new government of Ukraine accused Russian forces of a major escalation in pressure over control of the Crimea on Monday night, saying the Russians had demanded that Ukrainian forces there surrender within hours or face armed assault. Russia denied it had issued any ultimatum but was clearly moving to strengthen its grip on Crimea, brushing aside new admonitions from President Obama and European leaders of economic punishment and isolation. The Interfax-Ukrainian news agency quoted an unidentified Ukrainian Defense Ministry official as saying Russia’s Black Sea Fleet commander had set a deadline of 5 a.m. Tuesday — 10 p.m. Monday Eastern time — for Ukrainian forces stationed in Crimea to lay down their weapons. Russia’s Interfax news agency said the Black Sea Fleet had no such plans. The conflicting reports only further served to worsen tensions in the Ukraine crisis, which has grown drastically in scope within the past few weeks to a new confrontation between Russia and the West reminiscent of low points in the Cold War."

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Obama's Response: Politico: "President Barack Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that continued military presence in Ukraine is a 'costly proposition' that would 'isolate Russia' from the international community. 'I think the world is largely united that the steps Russia has taken are a violation of international law' and that Russia is 'on the wrong side of history,' Obama said in the Oval Office as heavy snow tapered off across Washington. 'Over time, this will be a costly proposition for Russia.' ... [The president said] that some of the most likely responses are those discussed Sunday by Secretary of State John Kerry, including freezes on the assets of Russian businesses and a visa ban by the 'global community,' not just the United States. The State Department is already preparing sanctions against Russia and the Obama administration is “likely moving down that path” to implement them, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on a conference call with reporters."

It's Monday, March 3rd, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

Pistorius Murder Trial Day One: Associated Press: "The first witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial testified Monday to hearing 'blood-curdling' screams from a woman before she heard four gunshots on the night the double-amputee Olympian killed his girlfriend. Michelle Burger, who lives about 180 meters (196 yards) from Pistorius' house, said the screams woke her in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14 last year, when Pistorius killed Reeva Steenkamp by shooting four times through a toilet door. Pistorius, 27, says he killed Steenkamp by mistake thinking she was a dangerous intruder. Prosecutors, however, say the world-famous athlete shot his girlfriend after a fight. As soon as the trial started they used Burger's testimony to hint at a loud argument before the fatal shots. Burger's evidence contradicts Pistorius' version of events because the runner said he thought Steenkamp was in bed and did not describe any woman screaming."

China Arrests: Washington Post: "Chinese authorities said Monday that they have arrested three more suspects in an attack Saturday in which knife-wielding assailants killed 29 and wounded at least 140 at a train station, according to state media. Authorities have blamed the attack on separatists from China’s restive Xinjiang region, and late Monday night, police identified as the leader of the attack a man whose name appears to be from the Uighur ethnic minority that has long chafed under Chinese rule. ... The gruesome attack Saturday, which left bodies strewn throughout the train station in the southern city of Kunming, threatens to worsen already strained relations between the country’s Uighurs and its ethnic Han Chinese majority. China’s government-controlled Xinhua News Agency said Monday that the attack was carried out by a terrorist gang of six men and two women."

Bin Laden's Son-in-Law on Trial: USA Today/AP: "Osama bin Laden's son-in-law was introduced to prospective jurors Monday at the start of his trial on charges that he conspired to kill Americans and support terrorists in his role as al-Qaeda's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan asked Sulaiman Abu Ghaith to turn and face the potential jurors before asking if any knew him. None did. The judge drew silence as well when he asked if there was anyone who had never heard of al-Qaeda. The questioning was part of a process designed to shrink a jury pool of dozens of prospective jurors to the 12 anonymous jurors and several alternates necessary before opening statements begin as early as Wednesday. The trial, expected to last about three weeks, began a year after Abu Ghaith was brought to the United States following his capture in Jordan."

Apple's CarPlay: Wall Street Journal: "Apple said it is bringing its mobile operating system to automobiles this year with a new CarPlay system that links its iPhone with the vehicle’s in-dash display to allow drivers to access the phone’s maps, music and messages. The company confirmed that Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will demonstrate the new technology at this week’s Geneva Auto Show and it expects more than a dozen other major car manufacturers to bring the system to its automobiles in the future. Apple said CarPlay will be available in certain cars later this year from its three European partners as well as Honda, Hyundai and Jaguar. ... The announcement is the latest sign of an intensifying fight between Apple and Google’s Android operating system to control the connected cars of the future."

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.