Ukraine’s parliament has approved the creation of a 60,000 strong National Guard to be placed under the authority of the Interior Ministry.
This will absorb the ministry’s controversial Berkut riot police – some 4,000 men – after they have been vetted, national servicemen, and volunteers.
“In coordination with police the National Guard will ensure public safety and border security, and stop terrorism. Moreover, the National Guard will perform tasks typical for military forces,” said the parliament’s Speaker and Acting President Oleksandr Turchinov.
The National Guard’s first military exercises are to be held close to the compound of the fugitive ex-president Viktor Yanukovych.
Yuriy Krisyuk came from western Ukraine to participate in the Maidan protests four months ago. He says he is ready to join the National Guard as soon as possible. He has valuable military service, experience he obtained…in Moscow.
“I am ready to go in 2 hours to the military enlistment office, to take up arms and serve the people of Ukraine. I hope there will be no war. I hope so. My wife and little daughter are in Russia, I haven’t seen them for half a year,” he said.
Some however are not happy with the new force, and would prefer it to be under the army’s control. Others are uncomfortable serving alongside troops who followed Yanukovych’s orders during the Maidan.
“The National Guard already includes 32,000 people. Another 20,000 fighters will be enlisted over the next two weeks. However, the first training is supposed to start today,” says euronews’ Maria Korenyuk in Kyiv.
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