The new pro-Russian leader of Ukraine’s southern Crimea region has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for help in maintaining peace, as international concerns mount that Moscow may intervene militarily in the crisis.
A Kremlin spokesman said Russia “will not disregard” Crimean Premier Sergey Aksyonov’s request for help “in maintaining peace and accord in Crimea.”
Aksyonov, who was installed as the region’s premier after armed men took over the Crimean parliament building Thursday, said security forces “are unable to efficiently control the situation in the republic,” in comments broadcast on Russian state channel Russia 24.
Consequently, he said, he was taking charge of security. His actions are also a response to Kiev’s actions in appointing a new police chief in Crimea on Friday without consulting the parliament, he said.
“I am appealing to Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide assistance in ensuring peace and accord” in Crimea, he said.
Russia could send a “limited” armed force to Crimea to ensure security of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and Russian citizens living there, the Speaker of Russia’s Upper House of Parliament, Valentina Matviyenko, said Saturday, according to Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.
The crisis in Crimea has echoed round the world, with the U.N. Security Council president holding a private meeting about the crisis enveloping Ukraine on Friday and world leaders calling on armed groups not to attempt to challenge Ukrainian sovereignty.
After weeks of fighting for a better country, the citizens of Ukraine have managed to remove president Viktor Yanukovich from power. Ukraine’s fromer Prime Minister and hero of the country’s 2004 revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko has been released from prision and has returned to Kiev to claim justice for all the dead protesters.
Tymoshenko served as Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, and was forced out of office after losing an election to Yanukovych. She was sentenced in 2011 to seven years in prison after being convicted of abuse of authority over a natural gas deal negotiated with Russia in 2009.
Tymoshenko’s release was the latest in a day of dramatic, fast-paced developments that saw Parliament vote to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office and call for new elections. Just hours after her release from a prison hospital, Tymoshenko called for justice for protesters killed in demonstrations sparked by the President’s decision to scrap a trade deal with the European Union in favor of one with Russia.
President Yanukovich, after seeing that the elections of wether to keep him or not as a ruler were being lost, tried to flee the country but had no proper paperwork to do so, therefore was stopped by local inspectors. He denied the attempt to leave the country. Ukraine’s dismissed interior minister, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, also was refused exit from the country in a similar incident at the same airport, Astakov said.
The events of the day raise questions about just who is in control in Ukraine, with Parliament voting to oust Yanukovych and hold new elections on May 25.
The vote came just 24 hours after Yanukovych signed a peace deal with the opposition intended to end days of bloody protests.
Has Ukraine finally found peace?