A top Ukrainian official said on Friday that Russian aircraft transported about 2,000 suspected soldiers to a military airbase near the regional capital of Ukraine’s Crimea region.
"Thirteen Russian aircraft landed at the airport of Gvardeyskoye (near Simferopol) with 150 people in each one," Sergiy Kunitsyn, the Ukrainian president's special representative in Crimea, told the local ATR television channel. Kunitsyn added that the air space is now closed as he described the maneuver as an “armed invasion.”
The report of the invasion of the peninsula, which have yet to be confirmed, have not clarified whether or not agreements with Ukraine gave Russia the right to use the base or send additional troops into the country. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based in Simferopol and Sevastopol. Soldiers in unidentified uniforms are reportedly patrolling the airstrip, buildings, communication centers and Crimea’s parliament.
According to interpretmag.com, “Interfax Ukraine reports that all air traffic is halted at the Belbek Airport in Sevastopol due to the seizure of the landing strip by unknown persons.”
“There are about 400 people now in the Belbek airport. They have occpuied the landing strip and any movement of planes is stopped,” said a source quoted by the website.
Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov said in a televised statement that Russia is trying to antagonize Ukraine into an armed conflict so it can annex Crimea. Turchynov urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “stop provocations and start negotiations.”
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