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Crimean forces take Ukrainian navy HQ

Head of Russian Black Sea Fleet Visits Ukrainian Navy Base in Crimea

SEVASTOPOL, Crimea (AP) - Crimea's self-defense forces on Wednesday stormed the Ukrainian navy headquarters in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, taking possession without resistance a day after Russia signed a treaty with local authorities to annex the region.

An Associated Press photographer witnessed several hundred self-defense forces take down the gate and make their way onto the headquarters' premises. They then raised the Russian flag on the square by the headquarters.

The unarmed Crimean self-defense forces waited for an hour on the square before the moved to storm the headquarters. Following the arrival of the commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet, the Crimeans took over the building while Ukrainian servicemen did not offer any resistance.

The AP photographer was able to enter the headquarters and saw the Crimean self-defense forces roaming around while the Ukrainian servicemen were packing up and leaving.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a treaty to incorporate Crimea into its territory following a referendum in which residents the strategic region overwhelmingly backed the move.

Jubilant crowds in Moscow and other cities across Russia hailed the annexation while Ukraine's new government called the Russian president a threat to the "civilized world and international security," and the U.S. and Europe threatened tougher sanctions against Moscow.

Russian news agencies on Wednesday quoted Valery Zorkin, chairman of the Russian Constitutional Courts, telling reporters that they have just ruled the treaty to be valid, thus clearing yet another hurdle for Russia to annex Crimea.

The treaty will now only need to be ratified by the Russian parliament.

A Ukrainian serviceman and a member of a local self-defense brigade were killed by gunfire in an incident in Crimea on Tuesday.

Thousands of Russian troops had overtaken Crimea two weeks before Sunday's hastily called referendum, seizing some Ukrainian military bases, blockading others and pressuring Ukrainian soldiers to surrender their arms and leave. Putin insisted the Russian troops were in Crimea under a treaty with Ukraine that allows Russia to have up to 25,000 troops at its Black Sea fleet base in Crimea.

The West and Ukraine described the Crimean referendum as illegitimate and being held at gunpoint.

The United States and the European Union on Monday imposed sanctions on Russia, targeting Russian and Crimean officials with visa bans and asset freezes.

Crimea became a flashpoint of Ukraine's months-long crisis over whether to cast its future with the European Union or Russia. Protests began after President Viktor Yanukovych scrapped a trade deal with the EU in favor of a Russian offer. As protests grew and turned violent, Yanukovych fled to Russia and pro-Western parties installed a new government.

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sardukar83 March 19 2014 at 2:46 PM

" The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foriegn policy bac because the cold war has een over for 20 yrs"- Obama ...mocking Romneys concerns in 2012....epic fail ....Obama has become a worldwide joke....hes been out of his league since day 1...he and Hillary have made the world a far more dangerous place with their ineffective and childish notions of 'resets" of foriegn policy....Putin is to blame for Ukraine and Crimea...but he has been emboldened by Obamas cowardice in Syria, Missle defehse shield , etc. .....Obama is an embarassment

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Lennie and Mark March 19 2014 at 11:26 AM

Putin, what country are you going to take next . You my as well go for it, Obama will do nothing to stop you.

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1 reply
belldon10 Lennie and Mark March 19 2014 at 1:14 PM

Just as Bush did when Putin annexed part of Georgia.

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blindbagua March 19 2014 at 10:48 AM

I think All nations should she take notice! He Thinks he can just take what he wants.

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3 replies
fastmoving2 March 19 2014 at 11:33 AM

Remember President Carter's handling of the Iran hostage fiasco? Now we have President Obama's seven man sanction for the Crimea takeover.

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Jim March 19 2014 at 12:20 PM

Money is their Achilles' heel. Reagan spent them into backruptcy in the arms race (we're still paying for that) but Mr. Gorbachev tore down that wall and the USSR went belly up. Apparently Vlad never heard Harry Truman's warning: Those who will not learn from the mistakes of their past are condemned to repeat them.

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Bob March 19 2014 at 12:31 PM

Murdering russian butchers have destroyed MILLIONS of Ukrainians by starvation and other horribly cruel means. Then, with a communist party set up in Ukraine, there was ethnic cleansing of 4/5 of the cultural leaders of Ukraine by russian secret police and goon squads. Having replaced slaughtered Ukrainians with suitably-oriented russians (read: puppets of the moscow apparat), would you care to hazard a wild guess as to exactly where putin the butcher got all of those ILLEGAL votes? Duh!

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bienhoa72alum March 19 2014 at 1:31 PM

"We have no interest in the Ukraine." Didn't Putin say that yesterday? So I guess tomorrow he won't be interested in Belarus. Then he won't be interested in the Czech Republic. After that he won't be interested in Poland, or Hungary, or Austria, or Romania, or Austria, or Germany, etc, etc.... The Soviet Union died in 1989, but now, after 25 years, Putin thinks he can put it back together again.
When will the EU and the US start their "Training Exercises"

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3 replies
kk4ip March 19 2014 at 2:13 PM

It is only the beginng. The USSR is trying to rise again.

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johnnysul64 March 19 2014 at 7:55 AM

Joe Biden in Lithuania to reassure them that "we are behind you".
How do you say "you guys are f#*!*&" in Lithuanian?

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1 reply
Bernie johnnysul64 March 19 2014 at 9:27 AM

Beginning to think so……. appears that Putin might just be trying to retake all of the USSR beginning with the Ukraine…….

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1 reply
geoflying Bernie March 19 2014 at 9:32 AM

Who cares?.

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BroPower March 19 2014 at 10:19 AM

Putin sent a "gift" with a note to President Obama.
It was a box of RED Crayons....!
And the note said -- "Draw me some more red lines" - Ha, ha, ha, ha...
Under Barack Hussein Obama,
America has become the butt joke of the world.!

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1 reply
caminante4 BroPower March 19 2014 at 10:55 AM


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