Russian marines, paratroops seize Crimean airports. Moscow’s creeping invasion continues

Friday, February 28, 2014
By Paul Martin

February 28, 2014

Russian marines and paratroops took control of Crimea’s main airports at the crack of dawn Friday, Feb. 28. DEBKAfile’s military sources report another group seized the region’s key points – bridges, road hubs and power stations. Western sources referred only to “armed men sympathetic to the Russians,” seizing the airport of the capital, Simferopol – just as they described as “armed men” the Russian paratroops who stormed government and parliament buildings in the city the day before – and hoisted the Russian flag.
However, all doubt was removed later Friday when Arsen Avakov, Ukraine interior minister in Kiev, accused Russian troops of blockading an airport in what he described as an armed invasion.
Avakov said on his Facebook account that troops from the Black Sea Fleet stationed in the city were seen outside Belbek airport of Sevastopol, although the inside of the terminal was controlled by Ukrainian troops.
While stressing that no direct violent confrontations had taken place, Avakov said the matter should be dealt with on a diplomatic level before armed clashes broke out.
Thursday night, US Secretary of State John Kerry called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to propose dialogue for stabilizing the situation in Ukraine. The seizure of Crimean airports the next morning raised the stakes between the two powers. Moscow is making it clear that it won’t give an inch on its refusal to accept the administration rising in Kiev after what it considers to be a coup d’etat against the lawful rule of President Viktor Yanukovych. The West stands by its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

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