Russian troops used armored vehicles, automatic gunfire and stun grenades on Saturday to seize a Ukrainian airbase in Crimea a day after President Vladimir Putin signed laws completing Russia's annexation of the Black Sea peninsula.
Ukrainian forces also abandoned a naval base after attacks by pro-Russian protesters, and had to surrender two flagship vessels to Russian forces.
The facilities at Belbek and Novofedorovka had been among the last still under Ukrainian control after Moscow's armed takeover and subsequent annexation of Crimea, which has a majority ethnic Russian population and harbors one of Russia's biggest naval bases at Sevastopol.
Russia's seizure of the peninsula after the ousting of Ukraine's pro-Russian president by mass protests has triggered the worst East-West crisis since the Cold War. The United States and the European Union have targeted some of Putin's closest long-time political and business allies with personal sanctions.
At the Belbek airbase, a Reuters reporter said armored vehicles had smashed through the walls of a compound and that he had heard bursts of gunfire and grenades, making the takeover one of the more dramatic of Russia's largely bloodless occupation of Crimea.
23 March 2014
Russian troops seize an airbase in Crimea as they consolidates control over the peninsula
Posted by Brant at 11:46