Sunday 23 November 2014

Shots fired in air in Crimea naval base stand-off

Alastair Macdonald

Published 10/03/2014 | 16:00

A member of pro-Russian self defence unit takes an oath to the Crimea government in Simferopol March 10, 2014. Russian forces consolidated their hold on Ukraine's Crimea peninsula on Monday, taking over a military hospital and a missile base as officials geared up for a referendum on the region's future.   REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CIVIL UNREST)
A member of pro-Russian self defence unit takes an oath to the Crimea government in Simferopol March 10, 2014
A Ukrainian soldier sits at the base A2904 shortly before the Ukrainian command lost control over it to armed men in the Crimean town of Bakhchisaray March 10, 2014
An armed man, believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands inside the base A2904 after the Ukrainian command lost control over it in the Crimean town of Bakhchisaray March 10, 2014

Armed men fired in the air as they moved into a Ukrainian naval post in Crimea today, a Ukrainian defence official in the region was quoted as saying by local media.

Ukraine's Channel 5 television quoted Vladislav Seleznyov as saying the shooting, a rare occurrence since Russian forces took over the Black Sea peninsula a week ago, took place in mid-afternoon at a motor pool base near Bakhchisaray.

On his Facebook page, Seleznyov said about 10 "unidentified armed men" in two minibuses drove into the compound and demanded Ukrainian personnel there give them 10 trucks.

Earlier, Interfax Ukraine news agency quoted an unnamed Ukrainian official describing the men as Russian troops and saying that none of the Ukrainians at the site was injured in the shooting.

Moscow, which has a major naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea, has denied that uniformed units, wearing no insignia, which have taken control of the region are from its military forces - a denial ridiculed in Kiev and by Western governments.

Crimean leaders who took power after Ukraine's pro-Moscow president was overthrown in Kiev have called a referendum for Sunday to unite the region with Russia.

Officials could not immediately be contacted and it was unclear whether the confrontation at Bakhchisaray had ended.

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