People gathered in front of the Crimean parliament in Simferopol on Saturday as armed men patrolled the area nearby.
Ukraine’s prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has appealed to Russia to halt military movements in the autonomous republic and says Ukraine “will not give in” to Russian “provocations”.
But Sergei Aksyonov, the prime minister of Crimea has called on Russia for help.
“Recognising my responsibility for the lives and security of the people, I ask Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to offer assistance in providing peace and order in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea,” he told members of the press.
The Russian foreign ministry says it is “extremely concerned” about the situation in the region and won’t ignore the request for help. It added that recent developments in Crimea confirm the “desire of prominent political circles in Kyiv” to destabilise the situation on the peninsula.
On Saturday, Ukraine’s defence minister said Russia had “recently” brought 6,000 additional personnel into Ukraine and the Ukrainian military is on high alert in the Crimea region.
Meanwhile, the Russian foreign ministry has also announced that Russia’s Consulate General in Crimea will give out Russian passports to servicemen in Ukraine’s controversial and now-disbanded Berkut riot police.
Protesters in Ukraine had accused the force of firing live bullets at demonstrators, killing dozens of people.