The pro-Russian Crimean Prime Minister, Sergei Aksenov, has rejected an offer for talks from the interim federal government in Kiev.

The recently appointed Crimean leader also denounced the legitimacy of the interim government in Kiev, which assumed power following the dramatic exit of former president Viktor Yanukovich.

"We don't consider this government that proposes talks to us to be legitimate, that is the main issue," Aksenov told Latvian radio station Baltcom.

Aksenov, who was nominated to lead the semi-autonomous region shortly after an armed group seized control of the Crimean parliament, has reiterated his request to Moscow to provide security for the ethnic Russians in the region.

Aksenov, widely seen as Russia's puppet, has nonetheless refused to comment on whether Crimea would eventually secede from Ukraine. He said it is for the residents of Crimea to decide as the region is set to hold a referendum by the end of March.

It is still unclear whether the referendum will lead to Crimea's separation from Ukraine.

The Crimean peninsula, with a population of nearly two million, lies on the northern coast of the Black Sea. Russia's massive Black Sea Fleet is stationed at Sevastopol and 60% of the region's population are ethnic Russians.

Crimea is currently under the control of pro-Russian forces. However, the West has been urging Moscow to withdraw its troops, saying the move is an act of invasion.