Kiev, March 13 IANS | 9 months ago

The Ukrainian parliament Thursday called on the UN to consider without any delay the situation in its crisis-hit southern autonomous republic of Crimea even as it reiterated the country's commitment to European integration.

Some 250 lawmakers in the Ukrainian 450-seat assembly supported a resolution calling for the UN to examine the growing tensions in the Crimean peninsula in the light of an alleged Russian role in the crisis, Xinhua reported.

"The situation in Crimea is deteriorating due to increased movements of the Russian Federation's armed forces and the Black Sea Fleet," the resolution said.

Under Chapter 51 of the UN Charter, Ukraine, as one of the founding members of the UN, has the right to apply to the international community for help to restore its sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability.

Ukraine faced the threat of splitting up after the Crimean parliament adopted a declaration of independence from Ukraine, which would be put to a referendum Sunday.

Kiev described the referendum as "illegal", saying it violated the legal procedures established by the constitution.

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.

The Crimean peninsula was transferred to Ukraine in 1954 as a gift to Kiev by then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to mark the 300th anniversary of Ukraine's merger with the Russian empire.

In a separate resolution Thursday, the Ukrainian parliament confirmed Kiev's commitment to following the course for integration with the European Union (EU).

The measure, which is aimed at signing the association agreement between Ukraine and the 28-member bloc, was supported by 252 lawmakers in the 450-seat assembly.

"The course for European integration has been fully restored," Alexandr Turchynov, Ukrainian parliament speaker, said after the resolution was passed.

The country's parliament authorised Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk to sign the landmark partnership agreement with the EU on behalf of Ukraine as soon as possible.

The parliament also ordered the government to step up efforts needed for inking the agreement, in particular to complete the administrative reforms and amend legislation regarding the fight against corruption.

Earlier this month, Brussels had suggested that Kiev sign the political chapters of an association agreement. The EU also opened its market unilaterally to some Ukrainian goods.

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

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

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.

(Posted on 13-03-2014)

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