Sergey Aksyonov, the new head of Crimea, asked Russia for more troops for security reasons. Crimea declared allegiance to Russia after Ukraine’s parliament kicked out President Viktor Yanukovich on February 22nd.
Russia confirmed on Friday they sent troops to Crimea to protect their Black Sea Fleet. Aksyonov also said the fleet is protecting government buildings and keeping order in the peninsula. They need more troops for protection.
Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, Saturday issued an appeal to President Vladimir Putin to “use all available means to defend the population of Crimea from disorder and violence,” Duma Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said on Russian state TV.
On February 25th, the city council kicked out their Kiev-appointed mayor and appointed a pro-Russian mayor. A few days later, Crimea’s parliament dissolved their government and appointed Aksyonov as the new leader until they hold an election on May 25th to decide their fate with Ukraine. It is the same day Ukraine holds their presidential elections. On Thursday and Friday, gunmen stormed government buildings and took over Crimea’s international airports. They also took the television networks and set up checkpoints on every road that leads to Ukraine.
Russia has many Navy bases in Crimea, and the peninsula is a popular vacation spot for wealthy Russians. Over 58% of Crimeans are ethnic Russians.
Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Ukraine’s new prime minister, demanded Russia pull back its troops and called it a ruse by Russia President Vladimir Putin to pull Ukraine into a war:
“The presence of Russian troops is nothing more than a violation of the agreement for the Black Sea Fleet to be in Ukraine,” Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. “We urge the Russian government to withdraw their troops and return them to their base.”