Ukraine’s interior minister has accused Russian forces of staging a “military invasion and occupation” after armed men took control of two airports in Ukraine’s Crimea region.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on his Facebook page Friday that the armed men were blocking the Belbek airport in Sevastopol, where Russia has a naval base. Unidentified men were also patrolling the international airport in Simferopol, the Crimean capital.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet said on Friday its forces had not seized or taken any other action at a military airport near Sevastopol, the port on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula where the fleet is based, Interfax news agency reported.
“No Black Sea Fleet units have moved toward [the airport], let alone taking any part in blockading it,” a spokesman for the fleet told Interfax.
Ukraine’s Interim President Olekxandr Turchnyov has called an emergency session of his security chiefs over the situation.
The events come a day after gunmen seized control of government buildings in Crimea, a Ukrainian region with strong ties to Moscow. The gunmen also raised the Russian flag.
(Unidentified gunmen on patrol at Simferopol Airport in Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula, February 28 2014. Photo: Elizabeth Arrott/VOA)