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March 05, 2014 AT 7:10 AM
In his first interview since taking office, Ukraine's new prime minister vigorously defended the legality of his government against attacks coming from Russia, but said Wednesday that Ukraine would be willing to consider granting more autonomy to the Crimea region to assuage the concerns of the province's pro-Russian population. Speaking to The Associated Press, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk denied reports that Ukraine is seeking military assistance from the United States. Since last weekend, Russian troops have taken control of much of the Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea where Russian speakers are in the majority. A referendum on Crimea's fate is now scheduled to be held on March 30.