Friday, February 28, 2014

Ukraine Liveblog Day 11: Airports Seized

From The Interpreter:
Unmarked soldiers have seized both Sevastopol and Simferopol airports, and have established roadblocks at key locations in the Crimea. The deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych, who still maintains he is the legitimate head of state, is due to give a press conference shortly in Rostov-on-Don in Russia. While Russia continues to vow that it will respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine, it appears ever more likely that a Russian intervention in Crimea is already under way.
Yesterday’s liveblog can be found here. For an overview and analysis of this developing story see see our latest podcast.
Below, we will be making regular updates throughout the day:

2134 GMT: Independent media going off the air?
Ayder Muzhdabayev, deputy editor of Moskovsky Komsomolets, reported on Facebook 2 hours ago:
Urgent from Crimea
Armed divisions have seized the state television station (GTRK) of Crimea. All the staff have gathered together at the Crimean Tatar TV channel ATR, hundreds of others have come. They are waiting for the seizure. Several APCs have arrived. For now, they’ve passed by. They are also expected seizure of the building of the Crimean Tatar’s Medjlis [Assembly]. People are already going there. Everyone is afraid of what will happen tonight. There it is.
Friends, colleagues, take care of yourself! Don’t resist the military. God save Crimea!

2134 GMT: Russian blogger Lev Shlosberg who writes for the newspaper Pskovskaya Guberniya has written this report today at 4:42 pm (translated by The Interpreter) that says that Russian “Officers and Contractors of the 76th Chernihov (Pskov) Storm Troops Division” are now in Ukraine:
According to one of the participants in the operation, officers and contractors of the 76th Shock Troops Division have been re-locating to Ukrainian territory since last week. By early this week, there were already more than 100 soldiers. The last of the famous detachments was sent on Thursday, 27 February. They are fully armed, with 5,000 rounds of ammunition per person. There is one truck per 10 soldiers, and they are completely loaded with weapons including flame-throwers. Upon arrival on the territory of Ukraine, they did not report their geographical locations to people, and they were assigned local tasks. Most likely, this was Sevastopol and Simferopol. Emergency troops remain in Yysk, and did not take part in the operation. The barracks of the 76th Storm Troops Division on Margelova Street in Pskov is practically empty.

2128 GMT: Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a Russian politician who is the founder of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and is also a colonel in the Russian army, says he is stuck in Crimea, and he’s blaming Kiev:

2123 GMT: UNN has this report (translated by The Interpreter).
Crimean Parliament Creates Berkut Division of Ex-Berkut Soldiers The Verkhovna Rada or parliament of Crimea has created a Berkut special division to protect public order which will be subordinate exclusively to the republican [Crimean] government, says Rustam Temirgaliev, first vice premier of the Council of Ministers of Crimea, reported, citing Temirgaliev’s Facebook page. “I met with the soldiers from Berkut late last night and agreed to create a Crimean Berkut special division to protect public order which will be subordinate exclusively to the Republican government,” he said. Verkhovna Rada deputies have already passed the relevant decision.

2113 GMT: UNN reports that the entire command of the Ukrainian navy has resigned. This may be a rumor, however, since the UNN report also notes that the Ministry of Defense has no mention of this on their website, and their press service has not reported it.