BEIRUT

World

Shots fired as Russian troops storm Ukraine base in Crimea

  • Armed men, believed to be Russian servicemen, sit in an armoured vehicle near a military base in the Crimean town of Belbek near Sevastopol March 22, 2014. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko

BELBEK AIRBASE, Crimea: Russian troops forced their way into a Ukrainian airbase in crimea with armoured vehicles, automatic fire and stun grenades on Saturday, injuring a Ukrainian serviceman and detaining the base's commander for talks.

A Reuters reporter said armoured vehicles smashed through one of walls of the compound and that he heard bursts of gunfire and grenades.

Colonel Yuliy Mamchur, the commander of the base, said a Ukrainian serviceman had been injured and that he himself he was being taken away by the Russians for talks at an unspecified location.

Asked if he thought he would return safely, he said: "That remains to be seen. For now we are placing all our weapons in the base's storage."

Belbek was one of the last military facilities in crimea still under Ukrainian control following Russia's armed takeover and subsequent annexation of the peninsula, which has a majority ethnic Russian population and is home to one of Russia's biggest naval bases.

Earlier, the deputy commander of the base, Oleg Podovalov, said the Russian forces surrounding the base had given the Ukrainians an hour to surrender.

After the Russians entered, a Ukrainian officer who identified himself only as Vladislav said: "We did not provoke this, this was brute force. I do not know whether this base will be formally in Russian hands by the end of the day.

"Ever since World War Two, this place has been quiet, and they came in here firing, with APCs and grenades. I am very worried now."

Mamchur, the commander, told his troops he would inform the high command that they had stood their ground. The soldiers applauded, chanting "Long live Ukraine!"

Many stood to take pictures of each other in front of the Ukrainian flag, which continued to fly over the base.

The Russian takeover of crimea has been largely bloodless, though one Ukrainian serviceman was killed and two others wounded in a shooting in Simferopol earlier this week.

Ukraine's Defence Ministry said on Friday that crimea's bases were still formally under Ukrainian control, but most are now occupied by Russian troops and fly Russia's tricolour flag.

 
Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

Shots fired as Russian troops storm Ukraine base in Crimea

Russian troops forced their way into a Ukrainian airbase in crimea with armoured vehicles, automatic fire and stun grenades on Saturday, injuring a Ukrainian serviceman and detaining the base's commander for talks.

Earlier, the deputy commander of the base, Oleg Podovalov, said the Russian forces surrounding the base had given the Ukrainians an hour to surrender.

I do not know whether this base will be formally in Russian hands by the end of the day.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here