Russian troops surround Crimea airbase
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Russian troops surround Crimea airbase

Russian troops have surrounded a Ukrainian airbase in Crimea and issued an ultimatum to forces inside to surrender, the deputy commander of the base in Belbek, near Sevastopol, said on Saturday.

world Updated: Mar 23, 2014 01:18 IST

Armed forces backed by armoured vehicles broke inside a Ukrainian airbase in Crimea, firing from automatic weapons into the air, media reports said on Saturday.

An armoured personnel carrier rammed through the gate of the base, and at least two more broke through the wall as armed men went inside and pointed guns at Ukrainian soldiers.

The sound of grenades could be heard coming from the complex. The situation later calmed down and the gunmen lowered their weapons and could be seen walking around inside the base.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian defence ministry in Crimea Vladislav Seleznyov said on Facebook that pro-Russia militia were inside the base.

Meanwhile, hundreds of pro-Russian protesters stormed a Ukrainian air force base in western Crimea, forcing the soldiers to leave as the Ukrainian flag was taken down.

The unarmed crowd yelling “Russia! Russia!” broke through to the base in the town of Novofedorivka and started smashing windows.

Later, a Russian foreign ministry official said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his US counterpart John Kerry will discuss the Ukraine crisis on the sidelines of a nuclear summit in The Hague next week.

First Published: Mar 22, 2014 18:45 IST