KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine's acting president on Tuesday called for the formation of a national guard and for the mobilization of reserves and volunteers into the country's armed forces to counter Russian military moves.
Oleksandr Turchynov asked the national parliament to approve a decision to turn the country's Interior Ministry troops into a National Guard "to defend the country and citizens against any criminals, against external and internal aggression."
Turchynov said that the mobilization will include those who have previously served in the army and volunteers.
Russian forces have strengthened their control over Ukraine's Crimea region in the run-up to a referendum set for Sunday on whether to split off and become part of Russia.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who will fly to the Washington to meet with Barack Obama on Wednesday, called on Western nations to defend Ukraine against a nation "that is armed to the teeth and that has nuclear weapons."
Meanwhile, Ukraine's fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, accused the country's new government of fomenting civil war.
Yatsenyuk asked Russia, the U.S. and European Union member Britain to abide by a treaty signed in 1994, in which they pledged to guarantee Ukraine's security in exchange for giving up its Soviet-era nuclear weapons.
"We are not asking for anything from anyone," Yatsenyuk told parliament. "We are asking for just one thing: military aggression has been used against our country. Those who guaranteed that this aggression will not take place, must form the one side pull out troops and from the other side must defend our independent, sovereign state."
Parliament was to vote later Wednesday on the motion on mobilization and the appeal to the West.
Yanukovych, speaking in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, repeated the Russian claim that the new Ukrainian authorities are kowtowing to radical nationalists, and that they posed a threat to Russian-speaking eastern regions.
Yanukovych, who fled last month after months of protests, said he would soon return to Ukraine.