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Updated: Thu, 06 Mar 2014 09:20:44 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Ukraine crisis: PM rejects Crimea referendum on joining Russia



Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, center left, walks under the flags of EU member states as he walks to a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, March 6, 2014. EU heads of state meet Thursday in emergency session to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, center left, walks under the flags of EU member states as he walks to a media conference at an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday, March 6, 2014. EU heads of state meet Thursday in emergency session to discuss the situation in Ukraine. Geert Vanden Wijngaert/Associated Press

Ukraine's Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said on Thursday that a decree making Crimea part of Russia was an illegitimate move and Crimea was and will remain an integral part of the country.

"This is an illegitimate decision and this so-called referendum has no legal grounds at all. That's the reason why we urge the Russian government not to support those who support separatism in the Ukraine," Yatseniuk told a news conference in Brussels following talks with EU leaders.

"Crimea is, was and will be an integral part of Ukraine."

He also urged Russia on Thursday to withdraw its military from Crimea and said the current crisis must be resolved only through peaceful means.

The crisis in Ukraine escalated on Thursday after the parliament in Crimea, which has effectively been seized by Russian forces, voted to join Russia.

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