SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) — The newly-formed government in Ukraine is pledging to keep the country from breaking up -- and it has strong backing from the West.
But a potentially dangerous confrontation with Russia is taking shape.
Russia has given shelter to Ukraine's fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, who is said to be holed up in a luxury government retreat in advance of a news conference tomorrow. He fled Ukraine's capital last weekend after three months of protests turned deadly. Meanwhile, Russian fighter jets have been flying above the border. And masked gunmen have stormed the parliament in Ukraine's Crimea region, declaring their allegiance to Russia.
Ukraine's interim prime minister is responding by declaring that the Black Sea territory "has been and will be a part of Ukraine."
Arseniy Yatsenyuk was selected as prime minister today in a boisterous parliamentary session. He is widely seen as a technocratic reformer who enjoys the support of the United States.
Russia has promised to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity. But the appearance of the fighter jets near the border, and the drills by some 150,000 soldiers in western Russia, signaled a strong determination not to lose Ukraine to the West.
The dispute over whether Ukraine should be more closely allied with Russia or with western Europe was at the center of the three months of anti-government protests in Kiev.
The escalating tensions have sent Ukraine's finances plummeting. And that's prompted Western leaders to prepare an emergency financial package.
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