Crimean Airports Occupied, Russia Prepares For Quick Response
Pro-Russian militia forces blockaded Ukrainian region of Crimea's two main airports on Friday.
Arsen Avakov, the Interior Minister of Ukraine, confirmed the news, calling the foreign presence "an armed invasion" and "violation of all international agreements and norms", the BBC has reported.
The airport in Crimea capital Simferopol was the first to be occupied, as armed men, some with Russian flags, arrived overnight. Some of them described themselves as "volunteers" from "the People's Militia of Crimea", a structure that was formed this week amidst the first sparks of tensions between Crimea Tatars and ethnic Russians in the region.
Later the occupation of the Simferopol airport was lifted.
A spokesman for the Simferopol airport in Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea, Ihor Stratilati, told the Ekho Moskvy radio station early on Friday morning that the armed persons who had raided the airport were already outside of its premises.
Sevastopol military airport was also seized by men patrolling with armoured vehicles and claiming their aim was to "maintain order".
Interior Minister Avakov reported that Ukrainian military and border guards have remained inside the facility, which is located near the Sevastopol-based Russian Black Sea Fleet.
Tensions have heightened throughout Crimea between the ethnic Russian majority and Crimea Tatars in the past few days over the prospects of a secession on the peninsular region, where the population is opposed to the new leadership in Ukrainian capital Kiev.
On Thursday a referendum was announced and scheduled for May 25 by the Crimean Parliament on expanding the region's autonomy.
Hours earlier, both parliament and government headquarters in the capital Simferopol were seized by Russian man, and Russian flags were raised over both buildings.
On Thursday and Wednesday, Simferopol also saw scuffles during rival rallies of Russians and Tatars siding with Ukrainians against possible administrative changes.
Kiev's government, which was approved by Parliament on Thursday, has pledged to keep Ukrainian territorial integrity and warned Russia against interference in its own domestic affairs.
Moscow, though assuring it will not breach the sovereignty of Ukraine, put on Thursday 150 000 combat troops on "high alert" at its Ukrainian border and has expressed readiness to react in case of violence on the peninsula.
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I think we are all aware of your bizzare idea that the poor benighted people of the world need to embrace Tsar Vlad as their Saviour but I didn't realise that your delusion extended to their need to be "protected" from Democracy. What a very sad and twisted little world you live in, poor Sacho.... :(
.......;-)...the militsia of the entire Russian, the majority of Ukrainian and part of Tatar population of Crimea as the
"Red Army"? Why not? Anyhow it protects Crimeans from the "democracy" which is sprawling now over the rest of Ukraine......But "Horrau!", sure, to the deeds of the true Ukrainian patriots, the real "democrats", the sure friends of Western Democracies. Look at one of them conducting a lesson of democracy in the local Prosecutor's office (Rovno city, Ukraine, 2014): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwdwsYQCxdM
"Occupied", You wrote, Dear Novinite? Well, when Maidan was occupied, really occupied, by the neo-nazi ultras from the "Right Sector", You avoided calling it "occupation".....Btw, today "Verkhovnaya Rada" (parliament) in Kiev is REALLY occupied by the illegal scum, "brought to power" by the above ultras.....And RIGHT NOW the "representatives" of these, sorry to say, "new central authorities" knock some sens into the local administrations' stuff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpVXi3kPbAs
People of Crimea DON'T ACCEPT such forms of "education", Novinite.