The proverbial “sh*t” is hitting the fan in Crimea, and causing the Ukrainian acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, to issue a 3-hour deadline for Crimea to release all hostages and stop all provocations, a statement on the presidential website said.
This ultimatum comes after pro-Russian activists stormed the former Soviet state’s navy headquarters in the region.
“Unless Admiral Gayduk and all the other hostages — both military and civilian ones — are released, the authorities will carry out an adequate response… of a technical and technological nature.”
There were no further statements to indicate what his level of response would entail.
The inevitable standoff that comes between pro-Russian and Ukrainian forces could ignite into bloody conflict — and this is just a day after Moscow claimed Crimea as its own by what some believe as an “imposed” vote, and resulted in almost 300 armed pro-Russian supporters taking over the naval base in Sevastopol, said Marina Kanalyuk, assistant to the commander of Ukraine’s navy fleet.
“They are everywhere here, they surround us, they threaten us,” she said, adding that she was sure that Russian security forces were involved.
Kanalyuk said the 70 or so Ukrainian naval officers at the headquarters in Crimea had tried to stop the armed men from entering. She said that the armed men had replaced Ukrainian flags with Russian ones but that no shots had been fired.
Ukrainian navy chief Sergey Gaiduk was taken. Russia’s official ITAR-Tass news agency, citing the local Kryminform News Agency, reported that Gaiduk had been passed to the Sevastopol prosecutor’s office to be questioned about whether he’d passed on orders from Kiev for Ukrainian soldiers to use their weapons.
After being threatened and stormed by masked Russian troops and pro-Kremlin protesters, dozens of Ukrainian soldiers filed out of the main navy headquarters, in Sevastopol, beaten and despondent.
The local prosecutor’s office said Ukraine’s navy commander Sergiy Gayduk was taken and being held on suspicion of “ordering Ukrainian military units… to open fire on peaceful civilians”.
In light of this violence, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council chief Andriy Parubiy said officials in Kiev had decided to withdraw from the Moscow-led Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) alliance, that replaced the Soviet Union and to slap visas on Russians who sought to enter the country in response to the Kremlin’s Crimean claim.
Further, Parubiy said that Ukraine was developing a contingency plan, in an effort to withdraw Crimean servicemen and their family members “so that they could be quickly and efficiently moved to mainland Ukraine”.
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