Mar. 19, 2014 8:21am
SEVASTOPOL, Crimea (AP) — Masked Russian-speaking troops on Wednesday seized control of Ukrainian naval headquarters in Crimea after it was stormed by militiamen. Pro-Moscow Crimean authorities also detained the Ukrainian navy commander and reportedly blocked the defense minister and another government official from traveling to the peninsula in what they said was a bid to defuse tensions.
Ukraine’s military, which is heavily outnumbered in Crimea, has come under increased pressure since the region was nominally incorporated into Russia on Tuesday.
Members of the Crimean pro-Russian self-defense forces climb up to take down a Ukrainian flag, right, and a Ukrainian navy flag, left, at the Ukrainian navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, Wednesday, March 19, 2014. Crimea’s self-defense forces on Wednesday stormed the Ukrainian navy headquarters in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, taking possession without resistance a day after Russia signed a treaty with local authorities to annex the region. In center is a Russian flag. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)
Crimean pro-Russian volunteers in military fatigues line up in a square in front of a statue of Vladimir Lenin, next to the Council of Ministers of Crimea’s building, in Simferopol, on March 14, 2014, two days ahead of the referendum over Crimea’s bid to break away from Ukraine and join Russia. US Secretary of State John Kerry said on March 14 that Russian President Vladimir Putin will make no decision on Ukraine until after Sunday’s referendum on the region of Crimea. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL LEAL OLIVAS AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Russian soldiers stand guard near Ukranian soldiers walking inside the Ukranian navy headquarters in Simferopol on March 18, 2014. Russia’s Constitutional Court unanimously ruled on March 19, 2014 that President Vladimir Putin acted legally by signing a treaty to make Crimea part of Russia, in an essential step in the Russian legal process towards ratifying the treaty. AFP PHOTO/ Filippo MONTEFORTE