Ukraine Approves New Prime Minister, Hagel Urges Russia To Back Off


UPDATED: Thursday February 27, 2014 10:51 AM

Ukraine's parliament has approved Arseniy Yatsenyuk as the country's new prime minister.

The vote was held Thursday amid the sharp rise in tensions in the southern Crime region, where gunmen seized local government buildings and raised a Russian flag.

The 39-year-old Yatsenyuk has previously served as the economy minister and foreign minister, and a speaker of parliament.

He was approved by 371 votes in the 450-member parliament.

The vote was held Thursday amid the sharp rise in tensions in the southern Crime region, where gunmen seized local government buildings and raised a Russian flag.

The 39-year-old Yatsenyuk has previously served as the economy minister and foreign minister, and a speaker of parliament.

He was approved by 371 votes in the 450-member parliament.

Meantime, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is urging Russia not to take any action on Ukraine that could be misinterpreted.

At a news conference Thursday after a NATO defense ministers meeting, Hagel cited a concern that Russia could act in a way that would lead to miscalculation during what he called a "delicate time."

Hagel said the U.S. is closely watching Russia's military exercises along the Ukrainian border, and he said the U.S. strongly supports Ukraine's territorial integrity. He said the U.S. expects all nations to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and avoid provocations. 

Hagel and other NATO ministers met earlier in the day with Ukrainian officials.

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.