Ukraine Has Approved A New Prime Minister, But Its Troubles Are Far From Over
On Thursday, Ukraine's parliament approved Arseniy Yatsenyuk as Ukraine's new prime minister — but the country's problems are far from over. Early Thursday morning, dozens of heavily armed gunmen seized government buildings and raised Russian flags in the country's southern Crimea region. The latest battleground area of Crimea is an autonomous part of Ukraine with strong ties to Russia, and has a majority population that ethnically identifies with the Federation.
There's a mix of confusion and chaos in the eastern European country; leaders are playing a tug of war and he-said-she-said about who's really in charge. Yatsenyuk, the former Ukrainian economy minister, was approved by 371 votes in the 450-member parliament, less than week after opposition groups ousted President Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych still claims to be the legitimate head of the country, but has sought protection from Russia. Meanwhile, pro-Russian demonstrators are pushing for Moscow rule in the Ukrainian peninsula.
On Thursday, roughly 50 gunmen barricaded themselves in buildings located in Simferopol, Crimea's capital, as protesters carrying Russian flags gathered in the area. Wearing orange and black ribbons — a symbol of Russian victory in World War II — the men put up a sign reading "Crimea is Russia."
They didn't offer any demands, but the gunmen did throw a flash grenade. One Ukrainian lawmaker told the Los Angeles Times the unidentified gunmen pushed police guards out into the streets, and were "armed to the teeth."
The aggressive action sounded alarms for Ukraine's new leaders, who asked Moscow not to abuse its navy base rights in the area.
NATO's secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, voiced his worries about the region Thursday:
Too little, too late, it seems. The clashes come a day after President Vladimir Putin ordered surprise military exercises across western Russia, though he insisted the decision had nothing to do with the events in Ukraine.