Report: Ukraine base in Crimea under siege
A Russian truck broke down the gates of a Ukrainian base in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol
A Russian truck filled with armed men drove into a Ukrainian base in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol on Friday and took it over, media reports said.
The truck broke down the gates but no shots were fired, a Reuters reporter on the scene said.
About 20 “attackers” threw stun grenades at the base in Sevastopol, according to the Interfax news agency. The installation is under siege by Russians, it added.
The Ukrainian troops, which numbered around 100, barricaded themselves inside one of their barracks, and their commander began negotiations, Interfax said.
A Ukrainian military official, Vladislav Seleznyov, said that the armed men took over the base without any shooting and that no one was hurt.
Russia has been swept up in patriotic fervor for bringing Crimea, its old imperial jewel, back into its territory - as tens of thousands of people thronged Red Square in Moscow on Friday waving flags and chanting “Crimea is Russia!” while a parliamentary leader promised the peninsula would be welcomed as an “equal subject” of Russia.
Crimea now belongs to Ukraine, but the local parliament has called a March 16 referendum on whether the semi-autonomous region should join Russia, a move U.S. President Barack Obama has called a violation of international law.
The strategic peninsula has become the flashpoint in the battle for Ukraine, where three months of protests sent President Viktor Yanukovich fleeing to Russia. Moscow calls the new Ukrainian government illegitimate, and has seized control of Crimea, where it has a major naval base on the Black Sea.
(With AP and Reuters)