TOP STORIES FROM EUROPE AT 1230 GMT

UKRAINE

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Russia sent fighter jets to patrol the border with Ukraine, reportedly gave shelter to the country's fugitive president and stood by as pro-Russian gunmen stormed offices of a strategic region, deepening the crisis for Ukraine's new government even as it was being formed.. By Dalton Bennett. SENT: 1,140 word, photos. Developing.

RUSSIA-YANUKOVYCH

MOSCOW — Moscow has granted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych protection "on the territory of Russia," after the fugitive leader sought help from the Kremlin, according to an official quoted by Russian news agencies. By Lynn Berry. SENT: 300 words, photos.

UKRAINE-CENTRAL EUROPE

PRAGUE — Diplomats from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland are heading to Ukraine for talks with the new government and acting President Oleksandr Turchynov. SENT: 120 words.

GERMANY-EX-PRESIDENT TRIAL

BERLIN — Germany's former president, Christian Wulff, was acquitted Thursday of corruption charges in a case that prompted his resignation two years ago. Wulff declared himself "very relieved" after the state court in Hannover cleared him of illegally accepting favors. "I never had any doubt" about the outcome," he told reporters. By Geir Moulson. SENT: 280 words, photos.

BRITAIN-SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE

LONDON — British financial group Standard Life said Thursday it is drawing contingency plans to move some of its operations out of Scotland in the event it votes for independence — a decision certain to stoke debate about the fate of business after the Sept. 18 ballot. The vote has raised a number of issues for companies, including what sort of currency would be used. By Danica Kirka.

ITALY-SHIPWRECK

GIGLIO ISLAND, Italy — The former captain of a luxury cruise liner that capsized off an Italian island had gone back aboard for the first time since the 2012 shipwreck that killed 32 people. Francesco Schettino, who is on trial accused of manslaughter and abandoning ship, was allowed to board the Costa Concordia Thursday to help court-appointed experts inspect generators. SENT: 130 words, photos. Developing.

NATO-WOMEN MINISTERS

BRUSSELS — NATO has registered a first in its long history, with five women among the defense ministers who turned up this week to attend a policy-making meeting at the alliance's headquarters. The latest woman to join the ministerial ranks was Italy's Roberta Pinotti, who began her political career two decades ago as a lower-ranking official in what was then Italy's Communist Party. By John-Thor Dahlburg. SENT: 200 words, photos.

BUSINESS AND FINANCE

WORLD MARKETS

LONDON — An escalation in tensions in the Ukrainian region of Crimea roiled global markets on Thursday. As reports emerged that dozens of heavily armed pro-Russia gunmen have seized control of local government buildings in Crimea, stocks in Europe took a pounding while the dollar and gold advanced. Investors are worried that the tensions in the strategically important peninsula may take the Ukrainian crisis into a new, more dangerous phase. By Pan Pylas

AP Photos

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BRITAIN-RBS' RETREAT

LONDON — It was but briefly the biggest bank in the world. Now it isn't even the biggest bank in Britain, and it is about to come smaller still. Royal Bank of Scotland outlines its new strategic vision that will streamline the taxpayer-owned bank and set the stage for a dramatic pullback from international business, particularly those in the United States. As many as 30,000 jobs could go, though Thursday's earnings did not offer definitive numbers, just a staggering loss of $13.7 billion for 2013. By Danica Kirka

600 words by 1500 GMT; to incorporate BRITAIN-EARNS-RBS

WIRELESS SHOW-DIGITAL LIFE-THE SMARTPHONE 1 PERCENT

BARCELONA, Spain — The "1 percent" is often used to disparage the American elites at the very top of the wealth scale. When it comes to smartphones, however, the "1 percent" is the bottom of the heap. According to research firm Gartner, 94 percent of smartphones sales last year were either iPhones or Android devices. Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices made up another 5 percent combined. What about the remaining 1 percent? They are the wannabes such as Firefox, Jolla and Ubuntu. Here's what they offer that iOS and Android do not. By Anick Jesdanun.

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DENMARK-EARNS-LEGO

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Lego says its multicolored blocks were hugely in demand worldwide in 2013, especially in China where the company plans to open a factory to meet growing interest in its products. Lego said Thursday that China would become a future "core market," but also pointed to "healthy single digit growth rates" in key U.S. and European markets in 2013.

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GERMANY-ECONOMY

BERLIN — Germany's unemployment rate has stayed unchanged at 7.3 percent in February, after only 2,000 more people joined the ranks of the jobless during the month.

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SPAIN-FINANCIAL-CRISIS

MADRID — Spain's National Statistics Institute says the economy grew a smaller-than-expected 0.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared with the previous three-month period. The figure released Thursday revised earlier predictions by the institute and the Bank of Spain that estimated the economy had grown by 0.3 percent for the October-December period.

AP Photos

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DENMARK-EARNS-MOLLER-MAERSK

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Danish shipping and oil group A.P. Moller-Maersk says fourth-quarter profits fell 7.5 percent because of a fall in oil production and lower freight rates. The Copenhagen-based group said Thursday its fourth-quarter net profit dropped to 5.1 billion kroner ($936 million) from 5.5 billion kroner a year earlier. And revenue for the three-month period fell by nearly 6 percent to 65.7 billion kroner.

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GERMANY-TELEFONICA

BRUSSELS — The European Union's antitrust authority has formally outlined concerns that Telefonica's proposed 8.55 billion-euro ($11.7 billion) purchase of German mobile operator E-Plus may violate competition rules. EU Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani said Thursday a confidential letter detailing the competition concerns has been sent to the companies involved.

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GERMANY-EARNS-ALLIANZ

BERLIN — Insurance company Allianz says it is increasing its dividend to 5.30 euros ($7.27) from 4.50 euros a share after profits rose 15 percent last year. The Munich-based company said Thursday its net income attributable to shareholders reached 6 billion euros ($8.24 billion) in 2013, up from 5.2 billion euros the previous year.

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