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SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine -- Dozens of protesters demonstrated against Western involvement in the evolving Crimea crisis on Wednesday, saying Russia was their protector.
"Crimeans support Russia! Crimeans support Russia!" the crowd of about 50 people chanted in the capital of Ukraine's Crimea region. Others held signs bearing slogans such as "America: Don't Kill People."
A team of international observers is headed to Crimea, a strategic Black Sea peninsula that is part of Ukraine but which features a Russian-speaking majority.
Russia has consistently denied its soldiers are positioned outside Ukrainian bases in Crimea.
The West hopes to persuade Moscow to pull its forces back to base in Crimea and avert the risk of a war.
Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet his Russian counterpart in Paris on Wednesday.
Ed Flanagan of NBC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.