Russians seize two Ukraine airports?
A top Ukrainian security official says two airports in Crimea are under Ukrainian control despite attempts by gunmen to “seize” them.It could be that the Russians plan to use the airports as a jumping off point for an actual invasion. The pretext of concern about weapons being seized sounds more like a n excuse than a valid concern.
Ukraine’s Interior Minister earlier Friday said Russian navy troops were blocking access to the airports in Simferopol and Sevastopol, describing it as a “military invasion and occupation.”
But Ukraine’s Security Council Chief Andriy Parubiy insisted later Friday that the airports were still under Ukrainian control, according to the Interfax news agency.
Parubiy said the gunmen had set up checkpoints outside the airports. “But de-facto the airports are controlled by the law enforcement bodies of Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service said about 30 Russian paratroopers from the 810th brigade of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet had taken up position outside the Ukrainian Coast Guard base in the Sevastopol area. It said the paratroopers said they were there to prevent any weapons at the base from being seized by extremists.
Russia’s defense ministry had no comment.
Any Russian military incursion in Crimea would dramatically raise the stakes in Ukraine’s conflict, which saw the pro-Russian president flee last weekend after three months of anti-government protests. Moscow has vowed to protect Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Crimea, where it has a major naval base, and Ukraine and the West have warned Russia to stay away.