Russian troops assault Ukrainian military base in Crimea

Kiev, March 23 (IANS/EFE) Russian troops with armoured cars stormed a Ukrainian military base Saturday in the town of Balbek, Crimea, after issuing an ultimatum to commanders of that unit to either surrender the installation or change sides.

At least six Russian armoured cars took part in the assault, during which shots were heard and at least one journalist was wounded, according to various sources cited by the Ukrainian daily Ukrainskaya Pravda.

Ukrainian television’s Channel 5 reported that the Ukrainian base was under a grenade attack by members of the so-called self-defense forces of Crimea, annexed Friday by Russia after the peninsula’s residents voted in a referendum last weekend to break off from the Ukraine.

Those pro-Russian self-defense forces have been given the status of military units by the self-proclaimed government of the peninsula.

The commander of the air base, Yuli Mamchur, who Saturday refused to hand over the airport to Russian troops, was one of the first to demand that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry decide the future of the Ukrainian military stationed in Crimea.

–IANS/EFE

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IANS