Victor Yushchenko has presided over an urgent meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine to discuss this year’s two military exercises, Sea Breeze 2006 and Tight Knot 2006, in Crimea, according to the President’s press-office.

Acting NSDCU Secretary Volodymyr Horbulin admitted that Ukraine was still "badly prepared" for the exercises and said agencies in charge of holding them had failed to work efficiently.

The NSDCU members decided to continue preparing for the exercises in accordance with the January 31 decree, which clearly sets their terms and locations.

Mr. Horbulin said “the protests in Crimea have made the government analyze the situation from different standpoints.” He added that the events in Feodosiya and other Crimean towns “show that the local officials jeopardize the international reputation of Ukraine with their unauthorized actions.”

The NSDCU Secretary also promised to make "the Russian citizens illegally blocking traffic and taking part in the protests" persona non grata.

Mr. Horbulin said law enforcement agencies would now have to legally evaluate the events. The Defense Ministry and the Interior Ministry were authorized to preserve law and order during the international military exercises.