Ukraine declares national guard call-up, warns pro-Russia separatists

KIEV (REUTERS) - Ukraine's new rulers announced on Sunday a call-up to raise 20,000 men for a newly-created National Guard, accusing Russia of sending "touring" trouble-makers across the border to stir up separatism in the country.

Keeping tension high as pro-Russian Crimean leaders staged a referendum for the peninsula to secede to Russia, Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk vowed to bring to justice all those who were trying to destroy Ukrainian independence "under the cover of Russian troops".

Earlier, acting defence minister Ihor Tenyukh said Russia was pressing ahead with a military build-up in Crimea in violation of an agreement covering basing rights for its Black Sea fleet which has been there since Soviet times.

Instead of an agreed limit of 12,500 Russian servicemen in Crimea, Moscow now had 22,000 there, he said. "This is a crude violation of the bilateral agreements and is proof that Russia has unlawfully brought its troops onto the territory of Crimea,"Tenyukh said.

He later told journalists that the defence ministries in Kiev and Moscow had declared a truce until March 21 during which Russian forces, who have been arriving by boat and helicopter, would leave Ukrainian military facilities untouched.

Mr Yatseniuk, just returned from a trip to the United States where he won expressions of moral support but no offers of weapons, urged Ukrainians to sign on for service with the embryonic National Guard.

"It (the National Guard) will have training centres, legal weapons will be distributed. You will have the opportunity to defend the country, with the forces of the National Guard and the security forces," he told a cabinet meeting.

He had a harsh warning for separatist "ringleaders" who stirred up division in the ex-Soviet republic and were trying to destroy Ukrainian independence "under the cover of Russian troops".

"We will find all of them - if it takes one year, two years - and bring them to justice and try them in Ukrainian and international courts. The ground will burn under their feet," he said.