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Yatsenyuk Confirmed As Ukrainian PM, Calls For Unity

February 27, 2014
by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, one of the leaders of recent antigovernment protests in Ukraine, has been confirmed as the country's new prime minister.

Parliament overwhelmingly confirmed Yatsenyuk in a vote on February 27. The legislature, in a separate vote later in the day, confirmed a new government.

Addressing lawmakers, Yatsenyuk warned of 'unpopular' decisions ahead to tackle the country's economic crisis.

He vowed Ukraine will sign an Association Agreement with the European Union but also said Kyiv wanted a partnership with Russia. He further vowed that his government will preserve Ukraine's territorial integrity.

'We are committed to the territorial integrity and unity of my country,' Yatsenyuk said. 'And the new government will do everything and use all legal means to stabilize the situation in Crimea and to convince the entire world and all Ukrainian neighbors that Ukraine is a sovereign united country and no separatism is allowed.'

He said that Crimea -- where a group of armed men on February 27 seized the regional parliament and government buildings, raising the Russian flag -- 'has been and will be a part of Ukraine.'

Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov earlier appealed for calm and warned Russia -- whose Black Sea fleet is based in Crimea -- to keep its troops in their bases.

Speaking in Brussels on February 27, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urged Russia 'not to take any action that could escalate tension or create misunderstanding.'
​​
Rasmussen also said that NATO had no reason to worry that a military exercise that began on February 26 in the west of Russia is linked to developments in Ukraine, but he acknowledged that the timing was unfortunate.

'We have no information indicating that Russia has any plans to intervene militarily. In my statement today, I have been very balanced and urged all parties, on all sides, not to take steps that can escalate the situation,' Rasmussen said. 'On the contrary, we need steps that can cool down the whole situation.'

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Washington was 'closely watching' the Russian exercise and called on Moscow not to take any steps that could be misinterpreted or 'lead to miscalculation during a delicate time.'

'Today I affirmed America's strong support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty and NATO defense ministers made the same declaration in a joint statement,' Hagel said. 'We expect other nations to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and avoid provocative actions.'

U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt said Russia had an interest in the stabilization of Ukraine.

'We are obviously watching developments in Crimea very closely. We welcome the fact that the new head of defense, Admiral [Yuriy] Ilyin, has traveled to Crimea and opened channels of communication,' Pyatt said. 'And we are strongly convinced that over the long term Russia has an interest in the stabilization of Ukraine.'

There has been rising concern about separatist tendencies in Crimea, with its largely ethnic Russian population, after the ouster of Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych.

On February 26, pro-Russian activists and ethnic Tatars who support Ukraine's new leadersm scuffled outside the regional parliament.

Russia has questioned the legitimacy of Ukraine's new authorities and has warned them against 'infringing' on the rights of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine's east and south, including Crimea.

Writing on Twitter on February 27, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it 'will continue to defend in the international arena the rights of its compatriots [and] will strongly and uncompromisingly react when they are violated.'

On February 26, Russian President Vladimir Putin put the military on alert for massive exercises in western Russia, which borders Ukraine.

Ukraine Turns To IMF

In another development, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says it's sending a mission to Ukraine following a request for billions of dollars of support from the country's new authorities.

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a written statement that the IMF team coming to Kyiv will make an assessment of Ukraine's economic situation and launch talks on what policy reforms are needed.

Oleksandr Shlapak, who has been confirmed as Ukraine's new finance minister, said Ukraine was seeking 'at least $15 billion' from the IMF.

Russia suggested after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych that it might not disburse the remaining $12 billion of a $15 billion aid package it promised Kyiv in December, after Yanukovych declined to sign European Union cooperation accords.

Meanwhile, Yanukovych said in a message on February 27 that he had asked Russia for protection.

Yanukovych, in a statement sent to Russian news agencies, said he still considered himself to be Ukraine's legitimately elected head of state and that decisions made by Ukraine's parliament were illegal.

He said Ukraine's largely pro-Russian southeastern and southern regions will not accept lawlessness in the country, 'where ministers are elected by the mob on a square.'

A Russian official was quoted by all three Russian news agencies as saying Russia had agreed to ensure Yanukovych's personal security on its territory.

Ukraine's new authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Yanukovych and want him tried for 'mass murder' over the killings of dozens of antigovernment protesters during recent unrest.

There was no official word on Yanukovych's whereabouts on February 27, but a Russian media report said he was in a Kremlin sanatorium just outside Moscow.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, UNIAN, and Pravda.con.ua

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/ukraine-turchynov-appeal-c alm-crimea-buildings-seized/25278931.html

Copyright (c) 2014. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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