Subscribe to Breaking News emails

You have successfully subscribed to the Breaking News email.

Subscribe today to be the first to to know about breaking news and special reports.

Crimea Standoff: Russian Gunmen Surround Ukraine Military Base

 / Updated 
Unidentified armed and uniformed men guard the Crimean Cabinet of Ministers building in Simferopol on March 2, 2014. Armed pro-Russia men who had besieged Crimea's local parliament mysteriously vanished on March 2 but were still standing guard outside the regional government, as the capital of Ukraine's restive Black Sea peninsula remained calm but tense. AFP PHOTO/ GENYA SAVILOV GENYA SAVILOV/AFP/Getty ImagesGENYA SAVILOV / AFP - Getty Images

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine - Russian troops surrounded a military base in Ukraine's Crimea region Sunday in a tense standoff as the security crisis in the region deepened.

Armed men arrived at the base in Perevalne and demanded the Ukrainian soldiers inside lay down their weapons.

The Ukrainian forces remained defiant, but were heavily outnumbered.

No shots were fired in what appeared to be the first direct confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian military forces.

Russian troops haven't fired a shot. They don't need to. With rocket-propelled grenades at the ready, they have taken over Crimea without resistance and with the backing of most of this region's people.

In the regional capital, Simferopol, a pro-Russian self-defense force protected a statue of Lenin.

The base standoff was another sign that Russia was tightening its grip on Crimea – and its influence in other parts of pro-Russian eastern Ukraine.

In Ukraine’s second city, Kharkiv, there were running battles after local militias thwarted pro-Western demonstrators who tried to attack another Lenin statue.

The scenes underscored the problem facing Ukraine's interim leaders, who are powerless to stop the loss of Crimea.

Earlier Sunday, they called up military reservists, put their army on combat alert and appealed to the West for help - but the East of their country is now mutinous.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has so far shown no sign of heeding international demands that he withdraw from Ukraine.

President Barack Obama spoke with Putin by telephone for 90 minutes on Saturday and expressed his "deep concern" about "Russia's clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity," the White House said.

NATO's secretary general said Russia had violated the U.N. charter with its military action in Ukraine, and he urged Moscow to "'de-escalate the tensions."

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
Map of Ukraine with the Crimea region highlightedLonely Planet / Lonely Planet Images

NBC News' Alastair Jamieson contributed to this report from London.

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
MORE FROM news

Have feedback?

How likely are you to recommend nbcnews.com to a friend or colleague?

0 = Very unlikely
10 = Very likely
Please select answer

Is your feedback about:

Please select answer

Thank you!

Your feedback has been sent out. Please enjoy more of our content.

We appreciate your help making nbcnews.com a better place.