Ukraine Installs New PM amid Crimean Take-Over
CRIMEAN PENINSULA - Security forces are on high alert in eastern Ukraine after pro-Russian gunmen took control of two government buildings in Crimea, including the parliament.
In the meantime, Ukraine's parliament is moving forward with building a new government, despite claims from fugitive President Viktor Yanukovychthat he's still in charge of the nation.
On Thursday, the legislative body approved Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the country's new prime minister.
The country is seeking stability, even as neighboring Russia is stepping up its military presence along the border. Approximately 150,000 Russian troops are there for what's being called a military drill.
Meanwhile, in southern Ukraine, along the shores of the Black Sea, another political crisis is brewing as pro-Russian demonstrators welcome the installation of a Russian mayor in Sevastopol.
"Sevastopol is a legendary Russian city and it must stay that way," one passerby told CBN News.
The city is Yanukovich territory, and his followers are angry at his overthrow.
"A bunch of bandits have taken over Kiev, and we will not obey their laws or recognize them here," another resident said.
Crimea began as part of Russia, then became part of Ukraine following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Ethnic Russians make up about 60 percent of the population.
Since Yanukovich's impeachment, a growing number of them want to separate from Ukraine and rejoin Russia.
"Yes, I'm willing to fight and go to war against those fascists in Kiev," another man told CBN News.
On Wednesday, ethnic Muslims who support Ukraine clashed with demonstrators in Sevastopol calling for stronger ties with Russia. At least 20 people were injured.
While anti-Ukrainian sentiments are at an all-time high here, so too are anti-American feelings.
When asked, "What do you think about America," one woman told CBN News "I think bad of America because they got involved in this conflict in Ukraine."
"We blame them," she charged. "Go back to America. Get out of Sevastopol, the Russian city of Sevastopol. Get out! That's it!"
Crimea is of huge strategic importance to Russia. It is home to Russia's Black Sea naval fleet.
The change in government in Kiev has raised some serious questions about Russia's continued presence in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, where the Russian Navy has some 25,000 personnel stationed.
"They need to be here to protect the city, especially with all that's going on in the country," one man said.
Carrying banners reading "God Bless Russia" and "Save Sevastopol," thousands of Crimeans gather in the city's square each evening, asking Russia to help protect their territory from "terrorists" and "fascists" coming from Ukraine.