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Shots fired at Ukranian base in Crimea

Russia Storms Ukrainian Military Base In Crimea
BELBEK AIR BASE, Crimea (AP) - Pro-Russian forces stormed a Ukrainian air force base in Crimea, firing shots and smashing through concrete walls with armored personnel carriers, according to an Associated Press journalist. At least one person was wounded, the base commander said.

An APC also smashed open the front gate of the Belbek base near the port city of Sevastopol, according to footage provided by the Ukrainian Defense ministry. Two ambulances arrived and then departed shortly after. At least one of them was carrying what appeared to be a wounded person.

The Ukrainian commander of the base, Yuliy Mamchur, said there was at least one injury. He called his men together, they sang the Ukrainian national anthem and then stood at ease. He said they are going to turn over their weapons.

Russian forces have been seizing Ukrainian military facilities for several days in the Black Sea peninsula, which voted a week ago to secede and join Russia.

Elsewhere, more than 5,000 pro-Russia residents of a major city in Ukraine's east demonstrated in favor of holding a referendum on whether to seek to split off and become part of Russia.

The rally in Donetsk came less than a week after the Ukrainian region of Crimea approved secession in a referendum regarded as illegitimate by the Western countries. After the referendum, Russia moved to formally annex Crimea.

With Crimea now effectively under the control of Russian forces, which ring Ukrainian military bases on the strategic Black Sea peninsula, concern is rising that Ukraine's eastern regions will agitate for a similar move.

Russia has brought large military contingents to areas near the border with eastern Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin has said there is no intention to move into eastern Ukraine, but the prospect of violence between pro- and anti-secession groups in the east could be used as a pretext for sending in troops.

Eastern Ukraine is the heartland of Ukraine's economically vital heavy industry and mining and the support base for Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian president who fled to Russia last month after being ousted in the wake of three months of protests in the capital, Kiev.

Russia and Yanukovych supporters contend Yanukovych's ouster was a coup and allege that the authorities who then came to power are nationalists who would oppress the east's large ethnic Russian population.

"They're trying to tear us away from Russia," said demonstrator Igor Shapoval, a 59-year-old businessman. "But Donbass is ready to fight against this band which already lost Crimea and is losing in the east."

Donbass is the name for the region of factories and mines that includes Donetsk.

About an hour after the Donetsk rally began, the crowd marched through the city center and assembled before the regional administration building chanting: "Crimea! Donbass! Russia!"

Demonstrators waving Russian flags were faced off by lines of shield-wielding riot police. Inside, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was meeting with local officials.

The demonstrators erected several tents, an ironic echo of the massive tent camp that was established on Kiev's central square after the protests against Yanukovych broke out in late November.

"I'm ready to live in a tent, but I'm not ready to submit to the West, to dance to their tune," said Viktor Rudko, a 43-year-old miner.

The local parliament on Friday formed a working group to develop a referendum analogous to the one in Crimea. Activists on Saturday passed out mock ballots, although no referendum has been formally called.

A number of leading pro-Russian activists have already been detained by police on suspicion of fomenting secessionist activities. The country's security services said Saturday that they have arrested Mikhail Chumachenko, leader of the self-styled Donbass People's Militia, on suspicion of seeking to seize authority.

As tensions roil in the east, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is deploying an observer team aimed at easing the crisis.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement on Friday that Moscow hopes that the 200-strong team "will help to overcome the internal Ukrainian crisis" and ensure the respect for human rights there.

It is unclear whether the team will be allowed into Crimea. Russian forces last week stopped OSCE military observers from entering Crimea. The organization on Friday did not specify whether the observers will go to Crimea.

Lukashevich said on Saturday that the OSCE's mission "will reflect the new political and legal order and will not cover Crimea and Sevastopol which became part of Russia."

Daniel Baer, the United States' chief envoy to OSCE, said the observers should have access to the territory because Crimea remains Ukrainian to the rest of the world.

The seizure of military facilities and navy ships by pro-Russian forces in Crimea has been proceeding apace since the peninsula was this week nominally absorbed by Russia.

On Saturday, a crowd stormed the Novofedorivka base, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Simferopol, Ukraine's Defense Ministry said.

Ukrainian television station TSN said troops inside the base hoisted smoke grenades in an attempt to disperse groups of burly young men attempting to break through the front gates.

TSN reported that there were children among the crowd attempting to seize the base.

The Russian Defense Ministry says that as of late Friday less than 2,000 of 18,000 Ukrainian servicemen in Crimea had "expressed a desire to leave for Ukraine." The ministry, however, stopped short of saying the remainder of the troops would serve in the Russian army.


Jim Heintz and Peter Leonard in Kiev and Nataliya Vasilyeva in Moscow contributed to this report.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
almazstmp March 22 2014 at 5:44 PM

Revolution here, revolution there, revolution everywhere. We are becoming an evil empire, destroying countries and peace.

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1 reply
leavesbound almazstmp March 22 2014 at 5:58 PM

We? So you are referring to yourself and all the other Russians?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Kat4Hat March 22 2014 at 2:30 PM

Crimean annexation is very contagious ; Vines started an annexation process from Italy after the electronic referendum.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
dorc792 March 22 2014 at 11:03 PM

send in 16 divisions of gays an lesbians to ukranes borders...then watch vlad putin flipp out..

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3 replies
bobkdesign March 22 2014 at 2:08 PM

Sad. Reminiscent of how the Soviets made satellites of countries it occupied after WWII with a lot of sham actions by sham agitators and sham politicians.

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1 reply
vettery bobkdesign March 22 2014 at 2:33 PM

If in Crimea, they want to be part of Russia, let them be.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
eeodjo March 22 2014 at 2:00 PM

It is not easy to prove that all these-so-called eastern Ukrainians wants to join the Russian Federation. Russia has made so much money on selling their natural gas, what would prevent them from buying these eastern Ukrainian peasants to protest against the western Ukrainian government and secede from Ukraine. I think that is why Putin said that his military forces are in the eastern Ukrainian border to protect all of those Russian speaking Ukrainians. What an excuse to make just so Putin can really get his troops to invade Ukraine when the time is right.

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1 reply
Roza Cooper eeodjo March 22 2014 at 3:57 PM

Why is it so difficult to believe that Eastern Ukrainians want to join Russia? They have been waiting for better life for more than 20 years. They have this chance now with a bonus -the right of speaking their own language. They know that Putin will do everything possible to please them financially (as he does with Chechen people)

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delicious joey March 22 2014 at 11:13 PM

look im sorry about my putin comments,and my short comments.i can see there is a pro putin faction here as well as members of the little people society.i know my comments are biased when it comes to the short and about Vlad.its just that both my ex were short and blonde,and swaggered,and they both wore 5 inch FM pumps after taking me to the cleaners.so ok im sorry

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1 reply
tomaho delicious joey March 22 2014 at 11:23 PM

Putin can go to Hell with Chavez and where Castro is soon to join.

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wbearl March 22 2014 at 1:51 PM

Okay for those f you who keep saying "What difference does it make for us?", if Russia decide to push further, Europe will have to come to the Ukraine rescue and there is no way that we won't be drug into that mess. Putin knows that the US is the deciding factor in everything he does and he also knows right now he can get away with just about anything. After November he doesn't know what will happen.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
cd6color March 22 2014 at 1:44 PM

You ever notice how Mexicans or Russians or Asians or Porto Ricans or about every other immigrant class come to America and speak so highly of the motherland they left for a better life..

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Chris March 22 2014 at 1:38 PM

Here's a thought... AS MAD as All World Governments have been as they are borderline dictatorships and NOT listening to the VOICE of the PEOPLE but only compiling the PEOPLE's taxes to float THEIR CORRUPTION... IS this> Since the world is overpopulating with young people with no jobs and NO assets to take and NO taxes for the GOERNEMENT to compile, the PLAN is to create CHOIS and pull the world into another WORLD WAR , so while the GOVERNEMENT sits back in the EASY chair eating caviar and drinking Champaign, the WAR would be claiming MILLIONS of YOUTHFUL lives as you know the Patriot thing is to "Serve Your Country"... THE FINAL result is less population that would receive GOVERNEMENT BENFITS and they throw away the ******* sound of OVERPOPULATION and LASTLY> ITS like the world can just FILE WORLD BANKRUPTCY and they can ALL start over with NO DEBIT and they may even gain more resources while as we the Slaves of OUR SOCIETY are drilling and MINING for the ELITE.... SMOKE THAT IN YOUR PIPE and PONDER on iT.......

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1 reply
Chris Chris March 22 2014 at 1:39 PM


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Ricardo March 22 2014 at 1:36 PM

Send Obama's troops.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
jh Ricardo March 22 2014 at 1:39 PM

He sent john kerry and old joe biden.That should stop putin.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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