The Ukrainian parliament has voted in favour of mobilising 40,000 reservists to counter what they described as Russia’s “blatant aggression” in Crimea.
The new troops will also guard against any further incursions by Moscow into the south and east of the country.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he would “defend the rights” of Russian-speaking Ukrainians in southern and eastern Ukraine if he needed to, though Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claims Moscow has no plans to invade these areas.
From Kyiv, Ukraine’s acting Defence Minister, Ihor Tenyuhk said: “Nobody in the world recognised this referendum. Its legitimacy is zero. The Crimean land has been and stays Ukrainian. The military have been there and will stay there. All issues have to be solved on a political level. We are not going to abandon our soldiers. We have direct communication with them. They know how to act and I think we will win.”
Amongst those signing up to protect the country are members of the ‘self-defence’ units which protected demonstrators during the ‘Maidan’ Independence Square protests.
Ukraine’s acting president said the troops would be ready within 45 days.