Gunmen Surround Ukraine's Infantry Base in Crimea

Tensions keep rising in Crimea as gunmen surrounded Ukraine’s infantry base in Privolnoye.

The convoy included at least 13 troop vehicles each containing 30 soldiers and four armored vehicles with mounted machine guns. The vehicles -- which have Russian license plates -- have surrounded the base and are blocking Ukrainian soldiers from entering or leaving it.

Ukrainian soldiers, with clips in their weapons, have positioned a tank at the gate.  The outnumbered Ukrainians placed a tank at the base's gate, leaving the two sides in a tense standoff.

After parliament ousted president Viktor Yanukovich, the people of Crimea immediately took action to disassociate themselves from Ukraine. They declared allegiance to Russia, kicked out their Kiev-appointed officials, and elected Russian officials. Over 58% of the population are ethnic Russians.

On February 26 and 27, gunmen seized Crimean government buildings and the international airport. They raised the Russian flag over the buildings. The very same day, Crimea's parliament met and dissolved their government. They elected Sergey Aksyonov, Crimea’s Russian Unity Party leader, as the chairman.

The Russian foreign ministry confirmed they were moving more troops into Crimea and Aksyonov asked for more troops  from Russian President Vladimir Putin for security. President Obama and others demanded Putin pull back in Crimea, but he said he has a right to protect Russian interests. The Russian Black Sea Fleet is stationed in Sevastopol.

Obama talked to Putin for 90 minutes on Saturday and he told Putin to pull back his troops. He is considering pulling out of the G8 Summit in Sochi in June if Putin does not comply. He also said Russia is violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, which is a violation of the Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act.

UPDATE 11:07AM: Another base in Crimea is surrounded by gunmen.


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