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PM: Won't budge '1 centimeter' from Ukrainian land

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - As separatists in Crimea kept up pressure for unification with Moscow, Ukraine on Sunday solemnly commemorated the 200th anniversary of the birth of its greatest poet, with the prime minister vowing not to give up "a single centimeter" of Ukrainian territory.

"This is our land," Arseniy Yatsenyuk told a crowd gathered at the Kiev statue to writer and nationalist Taras Shevchenko. "Our fathers and grandfathers have spilled their blood for this land. And we won't budge a single centimeter from Ukrainian land. Let Russia and its president know this."

"We're one country, one family and we're here together with our kobzar (bard) Taras," said acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.

A choir sang, and people laid bouquets at the monument to the son of peasant serfs who is considered the father of modern Ukrainian literature and is a national hero.

Later Sunday, following an extraordinary meeting of the Ukrainian government, Yatsenyuk announced he would be flying this week to the United States for high-level talks on "resolution of the situation in Ukraine," the Interfax news agency reported.

Crimea, a strategic peninsula in southern Ukraine, has become the flashpoint in the battle for Ukraine, where three months of protests sparked by President Victor Yanukovych's decision to ditch a significant treaty with the 28-nation European Union after strong pressure from Russia led to his downfall. A majority of people in Crimea identify with Russia, and Moscow's Black Sea Fleet is based in Sevastopol, as is Ukraine's.

This weekend, Russia reinforced its armed presence on the peninsula. Russian President Vladimir Putin's foreign minister ruled out any dialogue with Ukraine's new authorities, whom he dismissed as the puppets of extremists.

The regional parliament in Crimea has set a March 16 referendum on leaving Ukraine to join Russia. Senior lawmakers in Moscow have said they would support the move, ignoring sanctions threats and warnings from President Barack Obama that the vote would violate international law.

In Simferopol, the Crimean capital, a crowd of more than 4,000 people turned out Sunday to endorse unification with Russia. On Lenin Square, a naval band played World War II songs as old women sang along, and dozens of tricolor Russian flags fluttered in the cold wind.

"Russians are our brothers," Crimean Parliament speaker Vladimir Konstantinov said. He asked the crowd how it would vote in the referendum a week hence.

"Russia! Russia!" came the loud answer.

"We are going back home to the Motherland," said Konstantinov.

Across town, at a park where a large bust of Shevchenko stands, around 500 people, some wearing yellow-and-blue Ukrainian flags on their shoulders like capes, came out to oppose unification with Russia. They chanted "No to the referendum!" and "Ukraine!" People handed out fliers, one of which laid out the economic troubles that joining Russia would supposedly cause.

"We will not allow a foreign boot that wants to stand on the heads of our children," one of the speakers, Alla Petrova, said. "The people are not scared. We are not scared to come out here and speak."

Some pro-Russians drove by, shouting "Moscow, Moscow!" from their cars, but there was no trouble.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who appeared on the BBC Sunday morning, described Russia's entering Crimea as a "big miscalculation."

He also said the March 16 referendum was happening "ridiculously quickly." Hague added, "The world will not be able to regard that as free or fair."

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J. R. Gilbert March 09 2014 at 12:29 PM

This is not our problem, Mr. Obama. Use the $1 Billion you offer to Ukrain to help OUR PEOPLE before you give it away to others.

Let Europe carry their own luggage. The future of Ukrain impacts Europe. Not the USA.

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1 reply
sue J. R. Gilbert March 09 2014 at 1:07 PM

J,R.: Obama is always generous with money.... CORRECTION- OTHER PEOPLE'S MONEY... NONE of it is coming out of his pocket.

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Jim March 09 2014 at 11:51 AM

The deposed President of Ukraine gained power in an election that was certified as free and fair by the EU and by the United States. Young people objected to his policies. He was driven from his country by young people throwing Molotov cocktails who threatened members of Parliament in their homes and who could not wait for another election. The Acting President of Ukraine did not receive one vote from Ukraine citizens. He was handed power by the Molotov cocktail throwing "freedom fighters" (our president called them that) . And this is the man that our President invites to the United States to speak for the people of Ukraine.

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revenbvh March 09 2014 at 1:19 PM

On CNN just now a supposed expert just said people in that region speak Russian, Ukraine or both. Very little English is spoken there. So how come the protest signs are in English??

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ramonbatt March 09 2014 at 11:33 AM

Which 27 countries? Where is NETO ? Sections against Russia? Really? Russia will crush those 27 countries in a heart beat!

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adika3z March 09 2014 at 11:33 AM

ukraine and ussr russia has own RUBLES currencys,
dont let american dollars currencys in ukraine / ussr russia,

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robb March 09 2014 at 1:16 PM

The US has no business in Ukraine, Syria, Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere else. American troops die and nothing gets solved.

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1 reply
Claire robb March 09 2014 at 1:26 PM

I agree 100%

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kvave March 09 2014 at 11:35 AM

Then heres the Solution for Ol Putin . This will either make him very happy , or expose him as the liar and landgrabber I think he is :

Offer to move all Ethnic Russians back onto Russian Soil , with their belongings. That way they can be back under their Flag they love so much. And if it is NOT about grabbing Land and Resources , Putin will then back off.

However , if he does not , and continues to push for the LAND , People of the Ukraine , arm yourselves and Resist with ALL means necessary

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1 reply
FRED kvave March 09 2014 at 11:45 AM

Arm themselves? They gave up all their weapons, including nuclear weapons because the US, the Soviets, some European countries promised to defend them if ever anyone did what Putin is doing. But then those promises were signed by Clinton and then resigned by BO in 2009, but then who would trust a democrat's promise? Look at BO's promises in taxes, healthcare, energy, education, spending.... he has lied about everyone one of them, not to mention making us not even close to a space aged society, we have to bum a ride to our space station. What a great leader in his eyes only and many some of those uneducated minions.

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1 reply
kvave FRED March 09 2014 at 11:48 AM

Very True. JS even to Die with a Pick or a Shovel in ones hand would be better than to be under Iron Fisted and Corrupt Soviet Rule once again .

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sugarcreekchile March 09 2014 at 4:20 PM

The Ukraine is not one family or land but divided by ethnic, regional, cultural and linguistic lines. Half the "family" doesn't even speak the same language.

Ukraine with its present boundaries is an artifically created state. after World War II, when the Western Allies and the Soviet Union came to an agreement about the boundaries of Ukraine. Eastern Ukraine consisted mostly of areas that were formerly integral parts of the Russian empire, and the western regions of the Ukraine were those dominated for centuries, by the Polish, Lithuanian and Austro-Hungarian empires. Since the end of World War II, the borders of the Ukraine have basically consisted of what we know as Ukraine today, except for the Crimean peninsula, which was gifted in 1954 by Krushchev, a Ukrainian, to Ukraine in honor of the 300th anniversary of a treaty that the tsar made in 1654 with the head of the Cossacks of Ukraine.
Ukraine was a Soviet satellite at the time.

Ethnic Ukrainians occupy the Western half of Ukraine. They've always been nationalists and fought with Nazi Germany against Russia in WWII. The SS Galician division, a Nazi military unit made up mostly of ethnic Ukrainians, fought Soviet troops and Eastern Russia-speaking Ukrainians during World War II. Western Ukraine's Nazi past and the fact that at least 30% of those who participated in the overthrow of Yanukovych are neo-Nazi western Ukrainians is suppressed by the US and West.

Ethnic western Ukraine was a landlocked state and throughout history tried to gain control of the Black Sea region and Crimea but never did. Russia did. Ethnic Ukrainians are not native to that region. Neither are the Tatars in Crimea, they were part of the Golden Horde that invaded and controlled the region until routed by the Ottoman Turks. Catherine the Great took Crimea from the Ottoman Turks in 1783. She realised that the only way that Russia would hold on to Crimea in the long term was to change the population balance in favour of those sympathetic to the Russian cause and encouraged settlement there. By 1863, predominantly Russian immigrants outnumbered all others.

Of course, the ethnic Ukrainians want to retain Crimea and the southern provinces because they want to retain access to the Black Sea but the reality is that since the mid-1800's the population of the region has been overwhelmingly dominated by those with Russian ethnicity. Ukraine's claim to the Black Sea region has a tenuous validity. The ethnic Ukrainians who died to hold the region in the recent past fought as part of Hitler's war machine.

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HENRY March 09 2014 at 11:48 AM


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1 reply
dbailey880 HENRY March 09 2014 at 12:16 PM

Henry is right. Empire building, control of raw materials, world markets, subjugation and control of territories, we've read all about it, and as the temperature of our planet has risen threatening much of life, this poster is correct. STOP THE FIGHTING AND THINK ABOUT LIFE! ALL LIFE!

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sweetbabi3 March 09 2014 at 12:59 PM

The CIA and State Dept, the paid thugs carrying English speaking signs? Get real.....Cops were being killed and it turned violent...Why is the new PM English speaking and coming to see Obama? Wake up America. Our fingerprints are all over this. Most in Ukraine are Russian speaking and the Eastern part wants to be with Russia. Western part wants the EU. New English speaking PM......coming to see Obama? Wake up America

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1 reply
Kat4Hat sweetbabi3 March 09 2014 at 1:05 PM

We have to insist to investigate the snipers who shot the people on both sides: this is a real crime that may reveal the conductor. The evidence that they were hired by the radical opposition leaders is available on you-tube, a phone call between the Estonian diplomat and Ashton .

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