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Yatseniuk approved as Ukraine's new prime minister

Pro-Russia Gunmen Take Gov. Buildings In Ukraine's Crimea

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - 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.

The moves pose an immediate challenge to Ukraine's new authorities as they seek to set up an interim government for the country, whose population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West. Ukraine's new prime minister said the country's future lies in the European Union but with friendly relations with Russia. Some 150,000 Russian soldiers carried out military exercises and fighter jets patrolled the border.

A respected Russian news organization reported that President Viktor Yanukovych, who was driven out of Kiev by a three-month protest movement, was staying in a Kremlin sanatorium just outside Moscow.

"I have to ask Russia to ensure my personal safety from extremists," Yanukovych said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies on Thursday. He said he still considers himself president.

Shortly after, the same three Russian news agencies quoted an unnamed Russian official saying that Yanukovych's request for protection "was satisfied on the territory of Russia."

Oleksandr Turchynov, who stepped in as acting president after Yanukovych's flight, condemned the takeover of government buildings in Crimea as a "crime against the government of Ukraine." He warned that any move by Russian troops off of their base in Crimea "will be considered a military aggression."

"Unidentified people with automatic weapons, explosives and grenades have taken over the governmental buildings and the Parliament building in the autonomous region of Crimea," he said. "I have given orders to the military to use all methods necessary to protect the citizens, punish the criminals, and to free the buildings."

In Kiev, lawmakers chose Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the new prime minister. He will face the hugely complicated task of restoring stability in a country that is not only deeply divided politically but on the verge of financial collapse. The 39-year-old served as economy minister, foreign minister and parliamentary speaker before Yanukovych took office in 2010, and is widely viewed as a technocratic reformer who enjoys the support of the U.S.

Shortly before the lawmakers chose him as the leader of the new Cabinet, Yatsenyuk said Ukraine doesn't want a fight with Russia, but insisted the country wouldn't accept the secession of the southern Crimea region.

He said Crimea "has been and will be a part of Ukraine."

Yanukovych fled after riot police attacked protesters in Kiev's central square, killing more than 80 people, and European and Russian officials intervened. He has not been seen publicly since Saturday, when he said he remained the legitimately elected president - a position that has been backed by Russia.

Russia's respected RBK news organization reported Wednesday evening that Yanukovych was staying at the Barvikha sanatorium, which is run by the presidential administration's property department. The spokesman for this department, Viktor Khrekov, told The Associated Press on Thursday that he has no information about this.

The RBK report was impossible to confirm, but security at the Ukraina Hotel was unusually heavy late Wednesday, with police watching from parked vehicles outside and guards posted throughout the lobby. Some of Yanukovych's allies, also reported to have been at the hotel, may have still been there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman also said he had no information about Yanukovych's reported arrival in Moscow.

In a clear warning to Ukraine, Putin on Wednesday ordered massive military exercises involving most of the military units in western Russia. On Thursday, as part of the exercises, 90 fighter jets were put on combat alert and were patrolling the border with Ukraine, Russian news agencies quoted the Defense Ministry as saying.

The military also announced measures to tighten security at the headquarters of Russia's Black Sea Fleet on the Crimean peninsula in southeastern Ukraine.

The military maneuvers prompted a sharp rebuke from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who warned Russia that any military intervention in Ukraine would be a "grave mistake."

The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concern Thursday about the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine and vowed to protect their interests. State-owned ITAR-Tass news agency quoted a statement read at a session of the ministry's board on Thursday, saying that Russia "will have a firm and uncompromising response to violations of the rights of compatriots by foreign states."

Russia has accused Ukraine's interim leaders of failing to control radicals who threaten the Russia-speaking population in Ukraine's east and south, which includes the Crimean Peninsula.

Witnesses said the gunmen in Simferopol, the Crimean regional capital, wore unmarked camouflage uniforms and carried rocket-propelled grenades, sniper rifles and other weapons. They raised the Russian flag over the local parliament building.

The men did not immediately voice any demands and threw a flash grenade in response to a journalist's questions. They wore black and orange ribbons, a Russian symbol of the victory in World War II, and put up a sign reading "Crimea is Russia."

Maxim, a pro-Russian activist who refused to give his last name, said he and other activists had camped overnight outside the local parliament in Simferopol when 50-60 heavily armed men wearing flak jackets and carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers and sniper rifles took over the building.

"Our activists were sitting there all night calmly, building the barricades," he said. "At 5 o'clock unknown men turned up and went to the building. They got into the courtyard and put everyone on the ground.

"They were asking who we were. When we said we stand for the Russian language and Russia, they said: 'Don't be afraid. We're with you.' Then they began to storm the building bringing down the doors," he said. "They didn't look like volunteers or amateurs; they were professionals. This was clearly a well-organized operation."

"Who are they?" he added. "Nobody knows."

In a statement, the local government said Crimean Prime Minister Anatoly Mogilyev had tried to negotiate with the gunmen but was told "they were not authorized to negotiate and present demands."

Ukraine's acting interior minister, Arsen Avakov, said on his Facebook page that police were sealing off the area.

"Measures have been taken to counter extremist actions and not allow the situation to escalate into an armed confrontation in the center of the city," he said.

Phone calls to the Crimean legislature rang unanswered, and its website was down.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's currency, the hryvnia, dropped further to a new record low of 11.25 to the U.S. dollar, a sign of the country's financial distress.

One of the new government's first tasks will be to seek rescue loans from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The finance ministry has pegged the country's needs at $35 billion dollars for this year and next to pay salaries and debts and cover the large budget deficit.


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williamlevi123 February 27 2014 at 11:40 PM

Financial aid will not stabilize their country or their economy. It will only put them further into debt.

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williamlevi123 February 27 2014 at 11:30 PM

Fugitive president? Is he considered a criminal for fighting against a coup of the minority party?

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tensor2005 February 27 2014 at 6:43 PM

The IMF and the World Bank are basically criminal organizations operated by banksters. On behalf of their pals they intentionally destroy economies for fun and profit. A country might as well get a loan from a Mexican Drug cartel which isn’t interested in starving people by forcing a country to sell its grain stockpiles to pay off a loan from a bank the IMF told them to take a loan from.

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laferiabil February 27 2014 at 4:29 PM

Get a helicoptor and drop those warriors from Duck Dynasty into Ukrain if they cant handle it mobilize the Mississippi national guard That will get Putins attention!

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kstwrtkr3 February 27 2014 at 3:48 PM

This whole "revolution" disturbs me. No one in the revolutionary's camp is saying he was fraudulently elected or that he was a dictator massacring the people. He was elected in 2010, his term was going to end next year, if he was crooked, indict him then. The problem is that Ukraine is a lot like America in that we have two major parties who have nearly equal backing among the population. Half our country wanted Obama, half didn't. It's the same thing there. I think half of Ukraine staged a bloody coup. Now there putting corrupt politicians from the other party in office. In the end, their whole country is going to get the shaft. As for Russia defending it's base in Crimea, we'd do the same even if the coup was in Germany. A deal's a deal. US/Germany & Russia/Ukraine have agreements for military bases to be on their soil.

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topspin360 February 27 2014 at 3:27 PM


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williamlevi123 February 27 2014 at 11:33 PM

I knew there was something missing from the board but did not realize it until I read your post. I was beginning to wonder if the spammers were actually advertisers who paid AOL to post.

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shipraisa February 27 2014 at 1:31 PM

The Communist Lenin refered to the running dogs, lackeys and fellow travelers of Russian Communist imperialism as useful idiots, to be used to confuse, divert, and obfuscate on behalf of Russian imperialist goals, which continue under the current Putin/Facist/Imperialist regime.

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shipraisa February 27 2014 at 1:11 PM

Russia,Great Britain, US signed an agreement to gaurentee Ukrainian teritorial integrity in exchange Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons (was that a mistake?)Krimea is not Russia nor is it Russian, the Ukrainian people have always lived there, but along the way Others occupied the land , Scythians, Greeks who built the city of Kerch, Romans, Huns, Khazars, Turks, Tatars, British and French tried their hand at it, The Russians started moving in the end of the 17th cent after the defeat of the Turks at battle of Kerch. In the 1940s the Russians started deporting thousands of Tatars to Siberia accusing them of being allies of Nazis and called them Facists. But in truth it is the Russians who are Facists. Hitler Stalin were Allies. Russia trained German pilots ,supplied Germany with munitions and general war armaments, petroleum and food, gave the German Military tours of its concentation camps which the Nazis used as a model to kill millions.

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tensor2005 February 27 2014 at 6:53 PM

All this historical hokum is now irrelevant. The fact is the Rothschild banking empire has made yet another move to seize more territory close to Russia to establish more bases to threaten the only EUROPEAN country no longer under bankster control. Russia has to counter this encirclement forcefully. If they were to be overrun by the banking empire, run by the same ones ruining the west, they will be forced to bail out yet another group of criminal banks and suffer the same fate awaiting the foolish Ukranians.

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tj4law0 February 27 2014 at 9:47 PM

Are you kidding me? Russia's corruption makes drug cartels look like legitimate international business corporations. Russia using force to protect itself from "banksters", what a joke. Russia is acting as if it's the USSR all over again, or at least trying to build one, you know, the "Euasion Union". A nice Olympics show followed by old time brute force does not a good guy make.

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Darryl Ehlers February 27 2014 at 12:24 PM

Hi Folks This is a mess, but I caution you, who are the Muslums, Which party is based on religion ? this has not been brought up. I need to know who is on first ? Who wants democracy? Muslum agression is not a good thing. Tho the are well establiched in Holland, Germany. France, Africa and many more,with many wives and lots of children will soon take over majority vote. So tell me who are the good guys and bad guys. Muslums scaring people because they want you dead if you are not one of them. Sounds like Hitler in his prime

Have a Good Day Pilgram

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jsujet February 27 2014 at 12:43 PM

What on Earth are you talking about?

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mad1675 February 27 2014 at 11:45 AM

Putin is licking his chops for the Ukrain. This region was the Soviet bread basket for years. Millions of Ukrainians were murdered and enslaved to serve their Soviet masters. The generations of useful idiots in this country haven't been educated enough in world history (purposely) to understand the danger of standing idly by as Putin attempts to re establish the Soviet system. OPEN YOUR MOUTH obama !

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jsujet February 27 2014 at 12:45 PM

Please explain how the "useful idiots" have not been educated purposely? And what is a "useful idiot?"

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brenhatestwinkie February 27 2014 at 11:45 PM

how about you go there and fight

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