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New Ukraine ministers proposed, Russian troops on alert

Updated: 2014-02-27 09:49
( Agencies)

New Ukraine ministers proposed, Russian troops on alert

Ukrainian police separate ethnic Russians (R) and Crimean Tatars during rallies near the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol February 26, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]


Senior EU officials discussed a possible aid package for Ukraine and said officials would travel there alongside experts from the IMF to assess Kiev's financial needs.

New Ukraine ministers proposed, Russian troops on alert
Unrest in Ukraine

In Crimea, thousands of ethnic Russians, who form the majority in the region, demonstrated for independence. They scuffled with rival demonstrators supporting the new Kiev authorities. Crimea is home to part of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, which Moscow said it was taking steps to secure.

Demonstrators poured into the regional capital Simferopol, where the provincial parliament was debating the crisis.

Pro-Russian crowds, some cossacks in silk and lambswool hats, shouted "Crimea is Russian!".

Rival demonstrators backing the new authorities - mainly ethnic Tatars - rallied under a pale blue flag, shouting "Ukraine! Ukraine!"

Russia has repeatedly expressed concern for the safety of Russian citizens in Ukraine.

"In accordance with an order from the president of the Russian Federation, forces of the Western Military District were put on alert at 14:00 today," Interfax news agency quoted Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying.

Shoigu also said Russia was also "carefully watching what is happening in Crimea" and taking "measures to guarantee the safety of facilities, infrastructure and arsenals of the Black Sea Fleet," in remarks reported by state news agency RIA.

Since Yanukovich's downfall, all eyes have been on Putin.

Any military action in Ukraine, a country of 46 million people that has close ties with European powers and the United States, would be far more serious.

Despite the alarm raised by the sabre-rattling, many analysts expect Putin will pull back before taking armed action.

The war games were probably for show, said Moscow-based military analyst Alexander Golts: "Any rational analysis says that Russia would get nothing out of military intervention - it would become an international outcast."

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