March 14 - Boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko tells troops that politicians will do their best to avoid military action, but that if if came to it ''we will protect our homeland.'' Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Boxer-turned-politician Vitaly Klitschko offers his support to Ukrainian troops. The visit comes ahead of a referendum vote in Crimea Sunday to decide whether the region should split from Ukraine and join Russia. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) LEADER OF UDAR PARTY VITALY KLITSCHKO SAYING: "I just spoke with the guys there and I hope they won't have to use this hardware. We as politicians will try to do our best so we won't have military action." The troops are taking part in a military exercise on a day when the U.S. and Russia found no middle ground on the Ukraine crisis. (SOUNDBITE) (Ukrainian) LEADER OF UDAR PARTY VITALY KLITSCHKO SAYING: "But, god forbid if it comes to it, your commander and me are absolutely sure that each and every one of you understands that we are on our land, our soil, and we will protect our homeland, we have nowhere else to go. That's why I wish you all luck and you should be strong in spirit, thank you guys." On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei system.scripts.NVO said that Moscow had no plans to invade Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. But he said Russia would respect the referendum result.