Pro-Russian forces have taken control of Ukraine’s navy headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol, a day after Russia signed a treaty with local authorities to make Crimea part of Russia.
Witnesses said at least 200 of the unarmed self-defense forces entered the base Wednesday and put up the Russian flag. There was no violence; Ukrainian service members on site reportedly did not resist the takeover.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a group of university students in Washington that he was surprised and disappointed by what he called Putin’s interpretation of the facts.
Kerry said Russia is on the wrong side of history, and that when a region secedes from a country, it does so under the constitution — not at the butt of a gun.
But Russia has shown no signs of backing down. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Kerry by phone Tuesday that U.S. sanctions on Russia are unacceptable and will have consequences.
Crimean officials say the final ballot count from Sunday’s referendum shows 97 percent of voters favored independence from Ukraine.
Senior White House officials say they have “concrete evidence” that some ballots were marked before the vote.