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Crimean prime minister appeals to Russia for help

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-03-01

The prime minister of Ukraine’s autonomous region of Crimea reportedly claimed control of the military and police on Saturday, while appealing to Russia for help in maintaining order.

In a statement reported by local and Russian news agencies, Sergei Aksenov declared that the armed forces, the police, the national security service and border guards would answer only to his orders. He said any commanders who object should leave their posts.

“Understanding my responsibility for the life and security of citizens, I appeal to the president of Russia Vladimir Putin for assistance in guaranteeing peace and calmness on the territory of the autonomous republic of Crimea,” Aksenov said in the statement.

He did not specify, however, what assistance from Russia would entail.

Aksenov, the head of Crimea’s main pro-Russia party, was appointed prime minister by the regional parliament on Thursday. The move came amid heightened tensions over opposition in Crimea to the country’s new authorities, who took power last week following the overthrow of former president Viktor Yanukovich.

Alarm over Crimea crisis

The crisis in Crimea deepened on Friday after armed men in fatigues took up positions around two airports on the peninsula, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based.

Ukraine’s government has since accused Russia of “naked aggression,” while US President Barack Obama expressed his concern over the situation, warning Moscow against a military intervention.

“We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,” Obama told reporters in Washington.

“The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be “deeply destabilizing,” he said.

Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, has dismissed the criticism, saying any movements of its forces in Crimea were in line with agreements with Ukraine.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-03-01

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