By GERALD IMRAY and CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA
PRETORIA, South Africa -- As the girlfriend he shot lay dead or dying in his home, a weeping, praying Oscar Pistorius knelt at her side and struggled in vain to help her breathe by holding two fingers in her clenched mouth, a witness testified Thursday at the double-amputee runner's murder trial.
"'I shot her. I thought she was a burglar. I shot her,"' radiologist Johan Stipp recalled Pistorius saying in the minutes after the fatal shooting for which the celebrated athlete is on trial for murder.
A few minutes later, Stipp said, Pistorius went upstairs -- the area where he had shot Reeva Steenkamp -- and then returned. At that point, Stipp said he was concerned that the gun used in the shooting had not been recovered and that a distraught Pistorius was going to harm himself. The testimony did not address what Pistorius did when he went upstairs.
The testimony in a Pretoria court was the first detailed, public description of the immediate aftermath of the shooting of Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, by the Olympian in the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 14 -- Valentine's Day -- last year.
By YURAS KARMANAU and JUERGEN BAETZ
SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- Ukraine lurched toward breakup Thursday as lawmakers in Crimea unanimously declared they wanted to join Russia and would put the decision to voters in 10 days. President Barack Obama condemned the move and the West answered with the first real sanctions against Russia.
Speaking from the White House, Obama said any decisions on the future of Crimea, a pro-Russian area of Ukraine, must include the country's new government.
"The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the constitution and violate international law," Obama said. "We are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders."
Russian President Vladimir Putin was almost certainly behind Thursday's dramatic developments, but it was not clear whether he is aiming for outright annexation, or simply strengthening his hand in talks with the West.
By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV
MOSCOW -- As a counterweight to the European Union, Russia's Vladimir Putin is pursuing an ambitious dream rooted in memories of Soviet glory: The Eurasian Union.
It's a strategy to pull former Soviet satellite states back into Moscow's orbit through a combination of incentives and threats. And embattled Ukraine, a huge country of 46 million people, has lain at the center of the game plan.
Putin has put the Eurasian Union at the top of his presidential agenda, voicing hope that the new grouping could become a major economic powerhouse on par with the EU. He has sought to lure ex-Soviet nations with cheap energy and loans, while also expanding his military presence in these countries whenever he can.
Russia's offer of $15 billion to make Ukraine drop a trade accord with the EU was a carrot in Putin's Eurasia program. His deployment of troops to take over Crimea is a stick.