Kiev, March 13 IANS | 5 months ago

The Ukrainian parliament Thursday supported the creation of a new military force, the National Guard, to bolster the country's defence capability amid tensions in the southern autonomous republic of Crimea.


The new military force will incorporate up to 60,000 troops, drawing military personnel as well as civilians who served in the army, Xinhua reported.

It is widely believed that the National Guard will also involve volunteers from military veterans and participants of the recent anti-government rallies, who have experience of army service.

The National Guard is expected to perform combat and security missions during peacetime and emergency situations to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and to defend the interests of the Ukrainian citizens.

On March 3, the Ukrainian National Security Council ordered a full mobilisation of the country's defence forces over the alleged Russian military movements in Crimea.

So far around 40,000 volunteers have applied to be enlisted, which exceeded the expectations of officials.

On Wednesday, Ukraine's acting Defence Minister Igor Tenyukh said that his country would try to peacefully resolve the crisis in Crimea through political dialogue.

However, he pointed out that the Ukrainian armed forces were ready to repel a possible external aggression.

The crisis in the mostly Russian-speaking Crimea began in late February following the ouster of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych.

Since the outbreak of the Crimea crisis in late February, Kiev had been accusing Moscow of exacerbating the situation by increasing troop movements in Crimea, which is home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

On March 6, the Crimean parliament voted to join Russia and a referendum on Crimea's status will be held March 16.

(Posted on 13-03-2014)