Ukraine’s armed forces 'ready'

KIEV/SIMFEROPOL/SEVASTOPOL - Ukraine’s armed forces are ready to protect the country, Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said on Saturday.

Russia’s President has been given permission by The Federation Commission to deploy a Russian army on the border of Ukraine and Crimea.

Turchinov assured Russian speakers in Ukraine that civilians are not facing life threats, adding that it " is just false information, this is our responsibility to protect them."

However, Russia says it is ready to use armed forces if civilians face violence in Crimea, Chairman of the State Duma Sergei Naryshkin said on Saturday.

Ukraine’s interim President Oleksandr Turchynov spoke over the phone with the Russian State Duma Council, according to the official webpage of Ukraine`s Fatherland party.

Ukraine’s government made an official statement, reading: "We are ready to protect all of our citizens. Even though Russia is making grounds for the instability of the country, we will never use force against civilians in our country."

Ukraine`s parliament said that Turchynov has spoken with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and asked for Ukraine’s allies to solve the problem if the Russian army enters Ukraine. Kerry responded by saying that the U.S. is determined to protect the "democratic choice" of Ukraine.

Meanwhile, a fresh round of pro-Russian protests erupted in the eastern part of Ukraine on Saturday.

Protests broke out in the eastern cities of Donetsk and Kharkiv leaving several demonstrators wounded in riots as they tried to break into the municipality building in Kharkiv.

In another incident in Donetsk, pro-Russian protesters marched towards the office of the governor and took down the Ukrainian flag, replacing it with a Russian flag.

Until now, the Crimean Tatars, constituting 13 percent of the Crimean population, have kept calm, calling for restraint amid escalation of tension in the strategic peninsula.

Russian tanks and troops reportedly advanced late Friday from the coastal city of Sevastopol towards Simferopol, and are now poised for possible military intervention in Crimea.

An Anadolu Agency correspondent in Crimea reported that Russian tanks have repositioned in Sevastopol, while the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced that Russia sent an additional troop of 6,000 soldiers to Ukraine`s Crimea region.

Russia has not denied its military activity in Crimea, saying that it is acting "within the existing agreements with Ukraine on the stationing of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, Crimea".

Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Nations Yuriy Sergeyev also called upon the three permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, France and China to immediately take action as guarantor countries, against Russia`s move to use military force in Crimea, and push Moscow to act in line with the Budapest Memorandum.

Under the Budapest Memorandum of 1994, Russia is bound to "refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine".

Speaking to German news agency DPA, Germany`s government spokesperson Georg Streiter said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with her Ukrainian counterpart Arseniy Yatsenyuk over the phone and discussed the latest developments in the politically-shaken country.

He said Merkel called upon Moscow to respect Ukraine`s sovereignty, saying she`d followed the parliament`s actions on Saturday "with concern," according to government spokesperson Georg Streiter.

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