As tensions continue to escalate, acting president
Oleksandr Turchynov says country to form National Guard of volunteers
As Ukraine's acting president announced the
formation of a National Guard to defend against "external and internal
aggression”, his ousted predecessor Viktor Yanukovych blamed those who
removed him from power for what he called the "secession” of the Crimean
The US and Europe have denounced a referendum due to take place in
Crimea on Sunday as illegal, and on Monday US Secretary of State John
Kerry rejected any meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin until
Moscow is prepared to move against the vote.
World powers will
meet in London today to thrash out details of sanctions to be levelled
against senior Russian officials if Moscow fails to reduce tensions in
Yet in a televised briefing alongside Mr Putin, the
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Mr Kerry’s demands were "not
suitable” because they seek to establish the political upheaval in
Ukraine as a "fait accompli”, taking "the situation created by the coup
as a starting point”.
The US, for its part, said there was little point to negotiations
with Russia as long as its attempts to "annex” the Crimean peninsula
Speaking from southern Russia today, Mr Yanukovych seemed to suggest this "secession” of the Crimea had already happened.
He reiterated his claims that he is still the president of Ukraine
and the commander of its armed forces, and said that as such the $1
billion of aid already sent from Washington to Kiev should be denounced
as "illegal” under US law.
Also today, the acting Ukrainian
president Oleksandr Turchynov announced that the country is to form a
National Guard, comprised of volunteers and army veterans, "to defend
the country and citizens against any criminals, against external and
As the crisis continues to escalate and amid reports one anti-Russian protester was shot trying to cross into Crimea
yesterday, David Cameron is set discuss the situation today in London
with representatives from the US, Italy, France, Germany, Poland,
Switzerland, Japan, Turkey and Canada.
Former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych speaks during a press conference in Rostov-on-Don, Russia, 11 March 2014 (EPA)
Foreign and finance ministers will look at extending internationally
the asset freezes already imposed by the EU on 18 Ukrainians, including
Mr Yanukovych himself.
Mr Cameron told MPs yesterday that last
Thursday's emergency summit in Brussels agreed a three-stage process by
which the EU will respond to Russia's actions in Ukraine.
As a first response, preparations for the G8 summit in the Russian
resort of Sochi were suspended, ministers and members of the Royal
Family cancelled planned trips to the Winter Paralympics, work on a more
liberal EU visa regime for Russians was halted and the UK began a
review of all Government business and arms export licences.
Russia fails to come to the negotiating table with the government of
Ukraine within days in a new Contact Group, the EU is ready "rapidly” to
implement a second phase of action, including asset freezes and travel
bans on key figures in Vladimir Putin's administration, said Mr Cameron.