Ukraine Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk
KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Separatists in Crimea are keeping up the pressure for unification with Moscow while the Ukrainian prime minister is vowing not to give up "a single centimeter" of his country's territory.
During a solemn commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of Ukraine's greatest poet, Arseniy Yatsenyuk said "This is our land."
Standing before the crowd gathered at the Kiev statue to writer and nationalist Taras Shevchenko on Sunday, Yatsenyuk said "Our fathers and grandfathers have spilled their blood for this land. And we won't budge a single centimeter from Ukrainian land. Let Russia and its president know this."
A choir sang, and people laid bouquets at the monument to the son of peasant serfs who is considered the father of modern Ukrainian literature and is a national hero.
Putin defends separatist drive in Crimea as legal
Russian President Vladimir Putin is defending the separatist drive in the disputed Crimean Peninsula as in keeping with international law.
Over the weekend, the Kremlin beefed up its military presence in Crimea, a part of Ukraine since 1954, and pro-Russia forces keep pushing for a vote in favor of reunification with Moscow in a referendum the local parliament has scheduled for next Sunday.
President Barack Obama has warned the March 16 vote would violate international law. But in Moscow, Putin made it clear that he supports the referendum in phone calls Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Minister David Cameron.
According to the Kremlin, Putin said "The steps taken by the legitimate leadership of Crimea are based on the norms of international law and aim to ensure the legal interests of the population of the peninsula."