Ukraine’s Cabinet of Ministers held an emergency meeting on March 16 to discuss security issues about their border with Russia. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said the border is almost completely closed.
Ukraine is trying to deny entry to more Russians as violence escalates in the east. Yatsenyuk said border guards turn back people if they are suspected of being sent from Russia to stir up trouble in Ukraine.
Yatsenyuk asked about the same people who have been seen at pro-Russian protests in Kharkiv and Donetsk. A minister told him that these are the same people who have also been seen in protests in Odesa and Mykolayiv, as well as in 2009 during pro-Russian protests in the Baltic nations.
Since Yanukovych was ousted on February 22, pro-Russians in the east protested and Russia moved troops to the east. On March 14, Ukraine interim President Oleksandr Turchynov told the country they need to prepare for an invasion by Russia from the east. Parliament passed his resolution to form a national guard consisting of 60,000 people. Russia moved over 200,000 soldiers to the east border and engaged in military exercises. Moscow claimed they did this to familiarize the soldiers with unfamiliar land.
People have died in Kharkiv and Donetsk after pro-Russians attacked pro-Ukrainians. On March 13, pro-Ukrainians held a peaceful rally in Lenin Square, but everything went out of control when pro-Russians attacked them and two people died and 11 were sent to the hospital. Two more died in Kharkiv on March 15 in a deadly shootout.
Crimea, an autonomous republic of Ukraine, is voting in a referendum on Sunday. The people are deciding to remain with Ukraine or join the Russian Federation.