Ukraine’s acting president has warned Russia to mind its own business, rejecting Moscow’s call for his country to become a loose federal state.
Oleksandr Turchynov watched as National Guard troops continued exercises at a military base outside Kyiv. He said remarks by Russia’s foreign minister at the weekend were an attempt to bring about the break-up of Ukraine.
“The Russian government should solve the problems of the Russian Federation, not the problems of Ukraine. Ukraine has its own government, its own parliament, its own citizens who will determine their future themselves. And now there are no reasons for Ukraine to be federalised,” Turchynov said.
Ukraine’s parliament voted on March 13 to create the 60,000-strong National Guard to bolster the country’s defences.
Recruits come from military academies as well as the pro-Western protests that led to the previous government’s downfall.
“We have learned a lot, a lot of what we needed to know a month ago when we held our rally at Maidan. We’ve learned how to shoot, we’ve learned self-defence,” said volunteer Bohdan Bamoskiy.
“The guys have come here not to sign a contract with the army, but to make a stand for their Fatherland, to help our troops, to enforce the border, to establish order,” added Anton Konchenko.
The first group is due to finish training within days.
Kyiv remains highly sceptical of Russian claims that forces massed near the border will not move into Ukrainian territory.