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

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PM: Won't budge '1 centimeter' from Ukrainian land
Volunteers attend a rally to commemorate the 200th anniversary of poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko at Independence square in central Kiev on March 9, 2014. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Sunday vowed Ukraine would not give 'an inch' of its territory to Russia. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
A participant holds a placard reading 'Stop Blood, Stop War, Stop Putin' during a demonstration in support of the people of Ukraine at the Brandenburg Gate on March 9, 2014 in Berlin. AFP PHOTO / DPA / KAY NIETFELD +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read KAY NIETFELD/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman wipes her eyes during the rally to commemorate the 200th anniversary of poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko at Independence square in central Kiev on March 9, 2014. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Sunday vowed Ukraine would not give 'an inch' of its territory to Russia. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian (L) and pro-Ukrainian activists argue during a rally in Sevastopol on March 9, 2014. Pro-Russian activists attacked a pro-Kiev rally in Sevastopol with clubs and whips on March 9 as thousands took to the streets across Ukraine in rival demonstrations, escalating separatist tensions in the troubled ex-Soviet state. Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk vowed Ukraine would not cede 'an inch' of its territory to Moscow after Russian forces and pro-Kremlin gunmen took over the Black Sea peninsula. AFP PHOTO/ VIKTOR DRACHEV (Photo credit should read VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Ukrainian supporters hold Ukraininan flags during a rally held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Ukrainian poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko's birth, under a bust of the poet, in the Crimean capital Simferopol on March 9, 2014. Pro-Russian activists attacked a pro-Kiev rally in Sevastopol with clubs and whips on March 9 as thousands took to the streets across Ukraine in rival demonstrations, escalating separatist tensions in the troubled ex-Soviet state. In Simferopol, hundreds of protesters took part in separate rallies for Ukrainian unity and for joining Russia that passed off peacefully. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Policemen detain a man during a rally in Sevastopol on March 9, 2014, held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Ukrainian poet and national hero Taras Shevchenko. Pro-Russian activists attacked a pro-Kiev rally in Sevastopol with clubs and whips on March 9 as thousands took to the streets across Ukraine in rival demonstrations, escalating separatist tensions in the troubled ex-Soviet state. Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk vowed Ukraine would not cede 'an inch' of its territory to Moscow after Russian forces and pro-Kremlin gunmen took over the Black Sea peninsula. AFP PHOTO/ VIKTOR DRACHEV (Photo credit should read VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)
A man waves the Ukrainian national flag during the rally to commemorate the 200th anniversary of poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko at Independence square in central Kiev on March 9, 2014. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Sunday vowed Ukraine would not give 'an inch' of its territory to Russia. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-Ukrainian supporter holds an anti-war placard during the rally to commemorate the 200th anniversary of poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko in Crimean city of Simferopol on March 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
People attend a rally devoted to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ukraine's national poet Taras Shevchenko, at Independence square in central Kiev on March 9, 2014. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Sunday vowed Ukraine would not give 'an inch' of its territory to Russia. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Ukrainian supporters hold flags and placards reading 'Putin is not Russia' and 'I don't want to be Soviet' during the rally to commemorate the 200th anniversary of poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko in Crimean city of Simferopol on March 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
People attend a rally devoted to the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ukraine's national poet Taras Shevchenko, at Independence square in central Kiev on March 9, 2014. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on Sunday vowed Ukraine would not give 'an inch' of its territory to Russia. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF (Photo credit should read DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian activists clash with a pro-Ukrainian supporter during at a rally in Sevastopol on March 9, 2014. Pro-Russian activists attacked a pro-Kiev rally in Crimea with clubs and whips on March 9 as thousands took to the streets across Ukraine in rival demonstrations, escalating separatist tensions in the troubled ex-Soviet state. Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk vowed Ukraine would not cede 'an inch' of its territory to Moscow after Russian forces and pro-Kremlin gunmen took over the Black Sea peninsula. AFP PHOTO/ VIKTOR DRACHEV (Photo credit should read VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-Ukrainian supporter holds the flag in front of balloons in national flag colours during the rally being held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko in Crimean city of Simferopol on March 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian activists and policemen detain a pro-Ukrainian supporter during clashes at a rally in Sevastopol on March 9, 2014. Pro-Russian activists attacked a pro-Kiev rally in Crimea with clubs and whips on March 9 as thousands took to the streets across Ukraine in rival demonstrations, escalating separatist tensions in the troubled ex-Soviet state. Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk vowed Ukraine would not cede 'an inch' of its territory to Moscow after Russian forces and pro-Kremlin gunmen took over the Black Sea peninsula. AFP PHOTO/ VIKTOR DRACHEV (Photo credit should read VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Ukrainian supporters hold the flag and balloons in the national flag colours during the rally to commemorate the 200th anniversary of poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko in the Crimean city of Simferopol on March 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Ukrainian supporters hold Ukraininan flags and placards reading 'Crimea is not Russia' and 'Crimea+Ukraine' during a rally being held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Ukrainian poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko's birth, under a bust of the poet, in the Crimean capital Simferopol on March 9, 2014. Pro-Russian activists attacked a pro-Kiev rally in Sevastopol with clubs and whips on March 9 as thousands took to the streets across Ukraine in rival demonstrations, escalating separatist tensions in the troubled ex-Soviet state. In Simferopol, hundreds of protesters took part in separate rallies for Ukrainian unity and for joining Russia that passed off peacefully. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Ukrainian supporters hold flags during the rally to commemorate the 200th anniversary of poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko in the Crimean city of Simferopol on March 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Ukrainian supporters hold flags and placards reading 'Putin is not Russia' and ' I don't want to be Soviet' during the rally being held to commemorate the 200th anniversary of poet and national icon Taras Shevchenko in Crimean city of Simferopol on March 9, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV (Photo credit should read GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Policemen detain a pro-Ukrainian supporter during clashes at a rally in Sevastopol on March 9, 2014. Pro-Russian activists attacked a pro-Kiev rally in Crimea with clubs and whips on March 9 as thousands took to the streets across Ukraine in rival demonstrations, escalating separatist tensions in the troubled ex-Soviet state. Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk vowed Ukraine would not cede 'an inch' of its territory to Moscow after Russian forces and pro-Kremlin gunmen took over the Black Sea peninsula. AFP PHOTO/ VIKTOR DRACHEV (Photo credit should read VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Pro-Russian activists and policemen detain a pro-Ukrainian supporter during clashes at a rally in Sevastopol on March 9, 2014. Pro-Russian activists attacked a pro-Kiev rally in Crimea with clubs and whips on March 9 as thousands took to the streets across Ukraine in rival demonstrations, escalating separatist tensions in the troubled ex-Soviet state. Interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk vowed Ukraine would not cede 'an inch' of its territory to Moscow after Russian forces and pro-Kremlin gunmen took over the Black Sea peninsula. AFP PHOTO/ VIKTOR DRACHEV (Photo credit should read VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)
Former Russian paratroopers appluad as they hold a poster reading 'Nazism will not pass!' during a rally to show their support for pro-Russian authorities in the Ukrainian region of Crimea in Rostov-on-Don, south-eastern Russia, on March 9, 2014. Russia's incursion in Crimea is a 'serious miscalculation' and Moscow could face far-reaching economic consequences unless a diplomatic solution can be found, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on March. AFP PHOTO / ANDREY KRONBERG (Photo credit should read ANDREY KRONBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian soldiers take part in a military drill not far from the small city of Goncharovskoye, some 150 km from Kiev, on March 14, 2014. Russia on March 14 declared it reserved the right to protect compatriots in the whole of Ukraine, seen as a threat that Moscow could move its forces beyond the Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Ukrainian helicopters fire as they take part in military drills, not far from the small city of Goncharovskoye, some 150 km from Kiev, on March 14, 2014. Russia on March 14 declared it reserved the right to protect compatriots in the whole of Ukraine, seen as a threat that Moscow could move its forces beyond the Russian-speaking peninsula of Crimea. AFP PHOTO / SERGEI SUPINSKY (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
A pro-Ukrainian protester throws back a smoke bomb during clashes between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian activists at a rally in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk on March 13, 2014. The UN Security Council began meeting to discuss Ukraine in the presence of the country's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who is to address the session. The flaring crisis between two of the former Soviet Union's biggest states was sparked by the ouster last month of a pro-Kremlin regime that in November rejected an historic EU deal that would have pulled Kiev out of the Kremlin's orbit for the first time. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER KHUDOTEPLY (Photo credit should read Alexander KHUDOTEPLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Maidan self-defence activists walk as anti-war placards are hung in Kiev on March 13, 2014. Ukraine moved Thursday to mobilise a volunteer force to ward off Russia's expansionist threat. AFP PHOTO/ ANATOLII STEPANOV (Photo credit should read ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Members of a self defense volunteer group recoil from a fire after adding fuel to it as they guard a barricade in Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine, Friday, March 14, 2014. (AP Photo/David Azia)
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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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