Ukraine raising new national guard, slams Russia

by Reuters
Tuesday, 11 March 2014 08:58 GMT

Ukrainian soldiers stand on top of an armoured personnel carrier at a checkpoint near the village of Salkovo, near a Crimea region border March 10, 2014. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

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KIEV, March 11 (Reuters) - Ukraine will raise a new national guard force among military veterans in response to Russian attempts to annex Crimea, the acting president told parliament on Tuesday.

Oleksander Turchinov said mismanagement of the armed forces under his ousted predecessor meant that the Ukrainian military had to be rebuilt "effectively from scratch". The acting defence minister said the country had only 6,000 combat-ready infantry compared to over 200,000 Russian troops on its eastern borders.

Turchinov, who warned against provoking further Russian action, said the National Security and Defence Council decided to establish a National Guard, using the existing Interior Ministry forces as a base. The goal would be "to defend citizens from criminals and from internal or external aggression".

A partial mobilisation of volunteers drawn from those with previous military experience would begin, he said.

(Reporting by Natalia Zinets; and Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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