Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov told reporters the Ukrainian army and new national guard are ready to protect the country in case Russia invades.
“Our army is there, she is ready to defend Ukraine”, – he told reporters after visiting the complex tactical maneuvers of ground forces in the Chernihiv region.
“Given that Russia sent troops into the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and concentrated units of the Armed Forces on its northern, eastern and southern borders of our country, the Armed Forces of Ukraine put on full alert. March 3rd began teaching throughout our state,” – Turchynov said.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are rising everyday and will more than likely reach its boiling point on Sunday when Crimea holds a referendum to decide whether to remain an autonomous republic of Ukraine or join the Russian Federation. Ukraine’s parliament said the referendum is illegal, and the West will implement harsh sanctions on Russia if President Vladimir Putin uses the votes to justify more aggression towards Ukraine. President Obama told Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk the US will not recognize the referendum outcome.
Turchynov’s resolution to create a national guard consisting of 60,000 people was approved by parliament on Thursday. Turchynov said Yanumovych made the former security and armed forces completely useless to guard Ukraine from an attack by Russia. Despite all of this, the soldiers have high morale, and many citizens signed up to protect Ukraine.
“Tens of thousands of our citizens to voluntarily go to the military draft, to join the Armed Forces,” – he [Turchynov] said.
Turchynov also noted that people are willing to help resources, given the difficulties that exist today. “People are willing to give the army all that is possible,” – he said.
Moscow moved more than 200,000 soldiers to Ukraine’s border and ordered many military exercises. Over 8,500 soldiers and 36 military jets participated in the exercises, and Moscow said it was to familiarize the soldiers with unknown land. Turchynov said Russia will not stop at Crimea and east Ukraine is at risk.
Estonia’s Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu said Russia is ready to invade east Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to “invade eastern Ukraine” after occupying the country’s Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, Estonia said.
Events in Ukraine “clearly show that the Russian Federation only accepts force,” Estonian Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in an e-mailed statement today. To deter Putin, “a clear message needs to be sent that an attack will cost the aggressor dearly.”
Pro-Ukrainians and pro-Russians have fought in many east Ukraine cities since Yanukovych was deposed. On Thursday night, pro-Ukrainians held a rally at Lenin Square in Donetsk before they were attacked by pro-Russians. Two people were killed and 11 were injured.