Pro-Russian forces capture Ukraine's naval headquarters

Last Updated 19 March 2014, 14:36 IST

A day after a Ukrainian soldier was shot dead, pro-Russian forces seized the Ukrainian naval headquarters in Sevastopol Wednesday.

A large number of Ukrainian soldiers in Sevastopol have defected or deserted but there are some who say they would fight rather than leave their posts, the Guardian reported.
However, the situation Wednesday was further confirmation that few soldiers want to engage in a firefight with the Russians.

Tuesday's casualty was the first casualty of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Vladimir Putin announced Tuesday that Russia would absorb Crimea into its fold.

"We wanted to set free the prisoners in the base that are being illegitimately held there by their commander," Vladimir Melnik, who claimed he was the head of a local self-defence unit, was quoted as saying.

He said a criminal case would be opened against the commander. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk Tuesday announced in Kiev that the conflict with Russia had moved to a "military phase".

Arseniy also added that he was dispatching his deputy Vitaly Yarema, and the acting Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh, to Crimea to "resolve the situation".

Putin, in his speech Tuesday, said Western politicians "call something white today and black tomorrow" and aired a long list of foreign policy grievances going back to 2000, saying "we were cheated again and again, with decisions being taken behind our back".

US Vice President Joe Biden, during a visit to Poland Tuesday, said Putin and Russia stood alone and "naked before the world", guilty of international aggression.

(Published 19 March 2014, 14:36 IST)

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