By Niluksi Koswanage KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - The Malaysian military believes an airliner missing for almost four days with 239 people on board flew for more than an hour after vanishing from air traffic control screens, changing course and travelling west over the Strait of Malacca, a senior military source said. At the time it was roughly midway between Malaysia's east coast town of Kota Bharu and the southern tip of Vietnam, flying at 35,000 ft. "It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait," the military official, who has been briefed on investigations, told Reuters. Earlier on Tuesday, Malaysia's Berita Harian newspaper quoted air force chief Rodzali Daud as saying the Malaysia Airlines plane was last detected by military radar at 2:40 a.m. on Saturday, near the island of Pulau Perak at the northern end of the Strait of Malacca.
By David Mardiste TALLINN (Reuters) - The European Union will start preparing further responses to Russia's actions in Ukraine if Moscow does not show signs of backing down by the weekend, Germany's Foreign Minister said on Tuesday. Russian forces have consolidated their hold on Ukraine's Crimea peninsula ahead of a Russian-backed referendum on the region's future scheduled for Sunday March 16. "If the weekend passes without a visible change in Russia's conduct then on Monday in the European (foreign affairs) council we will have to discuss a next stage of measures," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in the Estonian capital Tallinn. "We don't want confrontation but the action of the Russian side unfortunately makes it necessary for us to prepare, as I have just outlined to you," he said on a one-day visit to the three Baltic states, all EU and NATO members whose proximity to former ruler Russia makes them nervous about the situation in Ukraine.
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The Crimean parliament voted Tuesday that the Black Sea peninsula will declare itself an independent state if its residents agree to split off from Ukraine and join Russia in a referendum.