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Ukraine says top commander held after base stormed

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) - A Ukrainian air force commander is being held after his base in Crimea was stormed by pro-Russian forces, and the acting president called for his release Sunday.

Col. Yuliy Mamchur is the commander of the Belbek Air Force base near Sevastopol, which was taken over Saturday by forces who sent armored personnel carriers smashing through the base's walls and fired shots and stun grenades. One Ukrainian serviceman was reported wounded in the clash. It was unclear if the forces, who didn't bear insignia, were Russian military or local pro-Russia militia.

President Oleksandr Turchynov, in a statement, said Mamchur was "abducted" by the forces. He didn't specify where Mamchur is believed to be held.

However, prominent politician Vitali Klitschko said Sunday that Mamchur is being held by the Russian military in a jail in Sevastopol, the Crimean city that is the base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

Klitschko was one of the leaders of the three months of protests in Ukraine that culminated in late February with President Viktor Yanukovych fleeing the country and interim authorities taking power before a May 25 presidential election. The protests were triggered by Yanukovych's decision to reject a deal for closer ties with the European Union and turn to Moscow instead.

Yanukovych's ouster was denounced by Russia and much of Ukraine's ethnic Russian population as a coup. Soon thereafter, Russian forces took control of Crimea and the region held a referendum to break off from Ukraine and join Russia.

Russia formally annexed Crimea last week, a move that Western countries say is illegitimate. The U.S. and the EU have imposed sanctions on Russia in the dispute, but Moscow appears unmoved.

On Sunday, the Russian Defense Ministry said the Russian flag was now flying over 189 military facilities in Crimea. It didn't specify whether any Ukrainian military operations there remained under Ukrainian control.

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dsepa61024 March 23 2014 at 10:29 AM

Yea, let's get tough and send our troops to Eastern Europe so that we can add another couple Trillion to our National debt then we can show them who is the boss. I wonder how many of these tough talking RepubliCON's are going to send their kids over their to fight the Russians like Hitler did in the dead of winter. In the mean time let's enjoy the NEO CON war the party of NO started over Obama care spending millions of ou tax money on trying to win the health care Ponzi Scheme War instead of doing something good for the common man. And after the great fleacing of America in 2008 no one is in jail?

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2 replies
kvave dsepa61024 March 23 2014 at 10:33 AM

And the Democrats shift 20 Years ago to Sanctuary cities spending Trillions Yearly to support Illegals , money funneled away from worthy sources to prop up the Ghetto Youth and Aid for Countries that hate us anyway That doesnt hurt the Budget?

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kvave dsepa61024 March 23 2014 at 10:34 AM

Tell it like it IS BOTH Parties are just as guilty. At least some do try to keep Americas Global presence somewhat meaningful

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Jim March 23 2014 at 12:18 PM

Transdniestria is an independent Republic that broke away from Moldova over 20 years ago. It is a stone's throw from Crimea. In 2006 the people of Transdniestria voted overwhelmingly to join the Russian Federation. The Prime Minister of Transdniestria has formally asked Russia for permission to join the Russian Federation just last week. So prepare yourself. Soon our President and Herman Munster will be giving speeches that state that allowing Trandniestra to join the Russian Federation is a violation of International Law. Despite the fact that the people of Moldova could care less. But allowing firebomb throwing anarchists in Kiev to overthrow the elected Government of Ukraine is not a problem.

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unityact2 March 23 2014 at 12:12 PM

The U.S. government (Democrats AND Republicans) is soooo hypocritical. The vast majority of people outside of the US, especially those in 3rd world countries, see through our government's complicity. Problem is, so many of the American people are so confused or arrogant or something, that they have no idea how many people see through the small U.S. government lies that our own people don't see. Patrick McCann, national president of Veterans For Peace

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Odens Fist March 24 2014 at 1:36 AM

Puitn Blames the U.S.A for the fall of the failed Soviet Union, he's right, and we never fired a shot. He's just a punk, I would negotiate with the Russina Mob and have him assassinated. The mob doesn't want WW3, they want profits. As a matter of fact his entire genetic line would be ended.

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Lauderdale Sand March 23 2014 at 6:46 PM

Putin said the protesters in Kiev were Taliban and Al Qaeda and they were causing an uprising in Kiev. What would have been better? Let Al Qaeda and Taliban influence the people of Kiev? And, they were killing people in Kiev. Putin has stopped the killing and given the people of Crimea a choice: be part of Russia, or stay independent. With all the problems in America, such as not being able to go for an evening walk in any major city in the country for fear of being mugged or killed by a street gang, voter fraud in our own country, and we know it, inflation growing daily while our government denies inflation exists here, no jobs while our government does not give the REAL unemployment figure, which is over 13% why are we worried about the possibility of Putin offending a Ukranian?

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4 replies
Rich & Martina March 23 2014 at 9:36 AM

The taking back of the Crimea which has been Russian Territory since 1782, is reversing
Kruschev's 1956 move of turning it over to the then Soviet Socialist Republic of the Ukraine.
It was only a journal entry in the Soviet files. It still flew the hammer and sickle until the melt down of the Soviets. The current take back by Russia, does remind me of the Adolf Hitler's demanding the Sudentland section of Czechoslovakia, because they spoke German there. He
got it back to Germany with out firing a shot. I also wonder with Putin saying Crimea is Russian and it belongs back in Russia, why wouldn't Germany say the same about East Prussia, which has been occupied by first the Soviets and now the Russian Federation, they call it Kaliningrad and it does not touch Russia or Belaruss or Ukraine

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1 reply
kvave Rich & Martina March 23 2014 at 9:43 AM

Because Germany is now , since WW2 been overly apologetic and weakened with no Military Resolve. Hesitant to even commit Troops in Coalition conflict. IF ONLY we would have followed Pattons Advice , Rearming , and Rebuilding the Wermacht in 1945 , sending it full force on an Eastern Spearhead CRUSHING MOSCOW................

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Brian Fine March 23 2014 at 10:57 AM

some of the guys are wearing regular shoes... top notch military putin..looks like a gang we have in east dallas...lmao

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rrmonk March 23 2014 at 11:32 PM

Starting to sound like the start of world war III

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2 replies
DON R AGUIRRE rrmonk March 24 2014 at 12:12 AM

I said the same thing earlier. Is this going to be armegeddan.

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boller123 rrmonk March 24 2014 at 12:25 AM

Yeah, and it's funny how there's always a Democrat in office when one does start?

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1 reply
rgrunner boller123 March 24 2014 at 2:08 AM

Yeah, it falls to a democrat when the republican party fails first.

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heylistenup1955 March 23 2014 at 10:43 AM

Unfortunately, these confrontations are going to continue until the Ukrainian soldiers evacuate their bases in the Crimea and return to Ukraine. The fact is, the vast majority of Crimean citizens are Russians who see the Ukrainians as foreign occupiers, and the Russian soldiers as liberators.
Think about it: have there been any stories of Russian soldiers clashing with Crimean citizens? No -- because the reality is that the vast majority of Crimean citizens want them there.

Remember: 78% of the Crimean citizens are ethnic Russian, not Ukrainian. And they have voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia.

Some history:
1.) The Crimea was part of Russia beginning in the late 1700s -- the fact is that the Crimea has been part of Russia for longer than the U.S. has been in existence.

2.) In 1954, Kruschev, when he was Premier of the Soviet Union, symbollically "transferred" the Crimea from the Soviet Republic of Russia to the Soviet Republic of Ukraine. Why? Well, Kruschev was a Ukrainian by birth (born in Kiev). Nobody cared at the time because Russia, Crimea, and the Ukriane were all part of the Soviet Union, so it had no practical effect.

3.) In 1992, when the Soviet Union collapsed, and Russia and Ukraine became separate countries, the issue of returning Crimea back to Russia chould have been dealt with. But at the time, everybody was focused on regaining control of all of the Soviet nuclear missiles that had been left in Ukraine -- and which the Ukrainians had no safety controls for. So the 1992 Budapest Agreement was rushed through -- the huge ticking time bomb of un-supervised nuclear missiles was eliminated, but the small ticking time bomb of Crimea was ignored.

4.) So for the past 20 years, the Crimea has been a ticking time bomb -- historically a part of Russia, populated primarily by Russians. Western politicians who claim that international law is being broken are referring to the Budapest Agreement, which is a badly flawed document as regards the Crimea, although it achieved its most important goal of recovering the abandoned nuclear weapons.

All in all, pushing the 1992 Budapest Agreement through quickly was probably the right thing to do at the time, but to use it today as the basis to prevent the Crimea from returning to Russia is hypocrital and self-serving: we tout "self-determination" all the time, but we try to block it in this instance because the Crimea is a valuable piece of real estate and the West does not want it to become a part of Russia.

Unfortunately, our actions are proving that we don't really care what the majority of the Crimean citizens want. They have voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, and at the end of the day, that is where they will end up. Our sanctions and threats will only prove that we are ignorant of the history of this area, that we are hypocrites, and at the end of the day -- paper tigers.

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3 replies
Stefan March 23 2014 at 10:40 AM

Ukrainian Government has jailed several Pro-Russian opposition leaders from several Eastern Oblasts. This is just setting up for a trade.

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