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Military "is ready to protect Ukraine" - acting Ukraine President

A show of force in Ukraine. As Russia's military tightens its grip on the Crimea peninsula, Ukraine's military takes part in exercises north of Kiev. Similar exercises are being held in other parts of the country, military officials said. Ukrainian acting president Oleksander Turchinov, donning combat fatigues, says the military is ready to protect the country. (SOUNDBITE)(Ukrainian) ACTING PRESIDENT OLEKSANDER TURCHINOV SAYING: "I am thankful to our military personnel, who are working in extremely difficult conditions. And this is despite the fact that for the last four years the Ukrainian armed services were deliberately and systematically weakened. Our army exists. It is active, and it is ready to protect Ukraine." The exercises come ahead of Sunday's referendum in Crimea on whether the region should split from Ukraine and join Russia. Russia has denied that the Kremlin has any plans to invade southeastern Ukraine.

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