Breaking News Emails
Pro-Russian forces have seized another military airport in Ukraine's southern Crimea region, a defense ministry spokesperson on the peninsula said.
The group of 80 armed men, along with 50 civilians, blocked the entrance to the airport near the village of Saki on Sunday and established machine-gun posts along the landing strip, Vladislav Seleznyov told Reuters by telephone.
Moscow says it has no troops in Crimea beyond the ones already stationed there in its Black Sea Fleet. Seleznyov said the men who seized the airport on Sunday were wearing military uniforms bearing no designated markings.
Crimea is largely Russian speaking. The region is threatening to break away from the rest of Ukraine after the popular uprising in the capital Kiev saw the ouster of Moscow-backed President Viktor Yanukovych last month.
Forces supporting Russia have taken control of several strategic points in Crimea. There have been several standoffs but Ukrainian troops have not put up armed resistance.
There have been weeks of tense protests by those wanting to align with Moscow and those favoring the new Kiev administration. The peninsula will hold a referendum on the subject on Sunday.
Reuters contributed to this report.