SIMFEROPOL, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Crimea is seeking to join Russia rather than win independence in the format of Abkhazia, Crimean Prime Minister Sergey Aksenov said Friday.
"Personally I believe that the Crimea should enter as a subject to the Russian Federation," Aksenov said at a press briefing.
"We will not have independence," he said through an interpreter.
When asked how long it would take for Crimea to complete the transition period, Aksenov said that it would take up to a year to join Russia.
He said that there had been Russian military presence in the peninsula but it had not conducted active operations.
"The Russian troops are always here, from the times of (Alexander) Suvorov and (Mikhail) Kutuzov," he said.
"The Black Sea Fleet never goes away since the independence of Ukraine," Aksenov said.
But he said that public order in Crimea had been maintained by local self-defense, law enforcement and security service units.
"For a couple of critical infrastructures, there had been coordination with the Black Sea Fleet and nothing more than that," said Aksenov.
Crimea, a Ukrainian autonomous republic, will hold a referendum Sunday on whether to join Russia or remain part of Ukraine as an autonomous republic. Russia has said it will respect the decision, while the seven major Western countries say they will reject it.