Crimean leader claims control, asks Putin for help

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An unidentified armed man patrols in front of the airport in Simferopol, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Russian troops took control of the two main airports in the strategic peninsula of Crimea, Ukraine’s interior minister charged Friday, as the country asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian state media said Russian forces in Crimea denied involvement. No violence was reported at the civilian airport in Crimea’s capital of Simferopol or at the military airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, also part of Crimea. At the Simferopol airport, a man claiming to speak for the camouflage-clad forces patrolling the airport described them as Crimean militiamen. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

An unidentified armed man patrols in front of the airport in Simferopol, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Russian troops took control of the two main airports in the strategic peninsula of Crimea, Ukraine’s interior minister charged Friday, as the country asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian state media said Russian forces in Crimea denied involvement. No violence was reported at the civilian airport in Crimea’s capital of Simferopol or at the military airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, also part of Crimea. At the Simferopol airport, a man claiming to speak for the camouflage-clad forces patrolling the airport described them as Crimean militiamen. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)

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Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, center, listens during a news conference after a private U.N. Security Council meeting on the Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014, at United Nation headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Ukraine’s fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych speaks at a news conference in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from Moscow, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Ukrainian fugitive president appears for first time since Saturday at Russia news conference. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — The pro-Russian prime minister of Ukraine’s restive Crimea claimed control of all military, police and other security services in the region Saturday and appealed to Russia’s president for help in keeping peace there.

In a statement reported by local and Russian news agencies, Sergei Aksenov declared that the armed forces, the police, the national security service and border guards will answer only to his orders. He said any commanders who don’t agree should leave their posts.

“Understanding my responsibility for the life and security of citizens, I appeal to the president of Russia Vladimir Putin for assistance in guaranteeing peace and calmness on the territory of the autonomous republic of Crimea,” Aksenov said in his statement.

Aksenov, the head of the main pro-Russia party on the peninsula, was appointed by the Crimean parliament on Thursday as tensions soared over Crimea’s resistance to the new authorities in Kiev, who took power last week.

Armed men described as Russian troops on Friday took control of key airports in Crimea, where the Russian Black Sea Fleet is based.

Associated Press

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