KIEV, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Crimean leader Sergey Aksenov on Saturday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to help guarantee peace in the crisis-torn autonomous republic in southern Ukraine.
"Taking into account my responsibility for the life and security of citizens, I ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to help ensure peace and calm on the territory of Crimea," Aksenov said in a statement quoted by local media.
Aksenov also stressed powerful institutions, such as the armed forces, the police, the national security service and border guards, should answer only to his orders and all commanders should obey his instructions.
The new Ukrainian central government on Friday ordered the Crimean police department's heads be replaced, which Aksenov said went against an agreement with the Crimean parliament under which the central government had no right to appoint directors of such agencies.
The central government's appointment and the appearance of unidentified armed men in its territory forced the Crimean government to lose control of the situation, the statement said.
Hours after Aksenov sought assistance from Putin, Russian State Duma (lower house of parliament) speaker Sergei Naryshkin told reporters that parliament deputies were calling on the president to use all resources available to protect the Crimean population from lawlessness and violence.
Naryshkin said the parliament had also adopted a statement, expressing "deep concern about the way the sociopolitical situation is developing in Ukraine and about the escalation of the political crisis."
The statement demanded the situation in Ukraine be brought back on a legal footing.
"As a result of the radical forces' actions, all Ukrainian government branches have been deprived of the opportunity to make legitimate decisions," it said.
Earlier Friday, Aksenov said Crimea and Russia had reached a deal on financial aid for the largely Russian-speaking republic, adding his government would elaborate on a plan to stabilize the economy and the Russian aid would help restore the situation on the Black Sea peninsula.
At a cabinet meeting Saturday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk called on concerned parties to abandon armed conflict and resolve the crisis through peaceful means.
Yatsenyuk also urged Moscow not to provoke discord in Crimea. "We call on the government and authorities of Russia to recall their forces, and to return them to their stations," he was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
Russia's RIA news agency quoted the Russian Black Sea fleet's press service as saying Crimean authorities and the fleet, which has a base in Crimea, have agreed to guard buildings on the Black Sea peninsula together.
Crimea is now the focus of Ukraine's ongoing crisis after some 50 armed men carrying Russian navy flags took control Friday of the two airports in the capital of Simferopol, one day after gunmen seized the local parliament and government buildings.
Interim Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on his Facebook page that Russian naval forces were behind the seizure of the two airports, though Russia denied any involvement.
Meanwhile, Ukraine parliament Speaker and acting Ukraine President Alexandr Turchynov urged Russian naval troops to refrain from going beyond their Crimean base.
Any troop movements outside the base "will be considered as military aggression," he told parliament.
Turchynov's remarks came a day after Putin ordered soldiers to be ready for war games near Ukraine, the Kremlin's boldest gesture since former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted last weekend.
However, Moscow denied the previously unannounced drill in its western military district, which came amid a series of increasingly strident statements about the fate of Russian citizens and interests, was linked to events in Ukraine.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the snap drills were aimed at checking the military's combat readiness and were not related to Ukraine.
Tensions escalated in Crimea this week following the Kremlin-friendly Yanukovych's ouster by a protest aimed at keeping the country away from Russia's influence.
Crimea was given to Ukraine by Russia in 1954 as a symbol of the friendly alliance between the two sides and only became a part of an independent Ukraine after the disintegration of the former Soviet Union in 1991.
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