People attend a rally outside the parliament in Kiev on February 27, 2014.(AFP PHOTO/ LOUISA GOULIAMAKI)
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Masked gunmen stormed parliament in Ukraine's Crimea region Thursday as Russian fighter jets scrambled to patrol borders.The escalating conflict sent Ukraine's finances plummeting further, prompting Western leaders to prepare an emergency aid package.The Russian leader has long dreamed of pulling Ukraine – a country of 46 million people considered the cradle of Russian civilization – closer into Moscow's orbit.Russia has pledged to respect Ukraine's territorial integrity. But the dispatch of Russian fighter jets Thursday to patrol borders and drills by some 150,000 Russian troops – almost the entirety of its force in the western part of the country – signaled strong determination not to lose Ukraine to the West. In Kiev, the new prime minister said Ukraine's future lay in the European Union but with friendly relations with Russia.
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