Ukraine: Crimea PM claims control of armed forces
Armed men patrol around the regional parliament building in the Crimean city of SimferopolReuters

Sergey Aksenov, the pro-Russian Crimean prime minister, has claimed complete control of the armed forces including police and the military and has sought further help from Russian President Vladimir Putin to resolve the situation.

Akesnov, who recently took over as Crimean prime minister after armed personnel stormed the parliament, said the police, the national security service and border guards will henceforth answer only to him. Those armed personnel who do not agree with this have been urged to the leave Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

The troops which are currently patrolling Crimea, which houses 2.2 million residents, are believed to be Russian.

The newly-chosen prime minister was appointed by the Crimean parliament in a dubious manner as part of the dramatic events unfurling in Ukraine in recent weeks.

"As the chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, exercising the powers delegated to me by the Supreme Council of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, I make the decision to temporarily put the armed units and groups of the Interior Ministry, the Security Service, the armed forces, the Emergency Situations Ministry, the fleet, the Tax Service, and the border guards under my direct control. All commanders shall follow only my orders and instructions, and I ask those who disagree to retire from service," he said in a statement obtained by Interfax news agency.

Aksenov, who is widely regarded as Moscow's puppet, added: "Taking into account my responsibility for the life and security of citizens, I ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to help in ensuring peace and calm on the territory of Crimea."

Within minutes of Aksenov's remarks, the Kremlin responded with a statement saying Russia will not ignore Crimea's request for help.

The Kremlin said it will uphold Crimea's plea to ensure peace and calm prevail in the region, which is becoming the centrepiece of the Ukrainian conflict.