Crimean self-defence group

The Ukrainian Security Council has ordered the General Staff to mobilise armed forces and call-up all military reserves to defend the country against any conflict, council secretary Andriy Paruby has announced.

Paruby was quoted by Reuters as saying that the Ukrainian Defence Ministry has been directed to ‘organise and conduct training with the necessary amount of people of military age’.

The council has also ordered the Foreign Ministry to seek help from the US and UK in guaranteeing the security of Ukraine, Paruby added, noting that the military forces will boost security at the energy facilities.

The moves comes after the Russian President Vladimir Putin secured parliamentary approval to deploy soldiers in Ukraine in wake of the political turbulence in the country, setting up the biggest confrontation between Moscow and the West since the Cold War.

Commenting on deployment, Ukraine Prime Minister said Arseny Yatseniuk said: "This is not a threat, this is actually the declaration of war on my country."

"We urge both parties to immediately seek a peaceful solution through bilateral dialogue, with international facilitation."

Insisting that Moscow has a right to safeguard its interests and the Russian-speaking population in Crimea and other regions of Ukraine, Putin ignored calls to pull back his forces, but accepted a proposal by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to create a group to begin political dialogue on Ukraine.

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Russian forces have already seized Crimea, an isolated Black Sea peninsula, which hosts the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet principal base, and serves as home to an ethnic-Russian majority populace.

Meanwhile, Nato said in a statement: "We urge both parties to immediately seek a peaceful solution through bilateral dialogue, with international facilitation … and through the dispatch of international observers under the auspices of the United Nations Security Council or the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe."

Image: A Crimean self-defence group stands guard with riot shields in Simferopol, Ukraine. Photo: courtesy of E Arrott.

Defence Technology