Pro-Russian Militants Attack And Seize Ukrainian Parliament in Crimea, And Deposed President Re-Emerges in Russia!
Protests between pro-Russian separatists and loyalists to the new Ukrainian government broke out into violence in Crimea as gunmen seized a Parliament building, and hoisted up the Russian flag.
In the days previous to the attack, pro-Russian Crimean citizens had been chanting, “Crimea is Russian!” against the Ukrainian loyalists.
Gunmen early Thursday captured the parliament and Cabinet buildings in Simferopol, the capital of Ukraine’s autonomous republic of Crimea, an official said.
Ukraine lawmaker and Crimea native Andrei Semchenko told The Times that two units of gunmen struck about 5:30 a.m. He described the men as wearing camouflage and “armed to the teeth, including heavy machine guns.”
“They used a couple of stun grenades to break in and pushed the police guards stationed inside out into the street,” said Semchenko. “They acted very professionally and seemed to be fully aware of the location of offices and infrastructure in both buildings.”
The gunmen allowed some legislators inside, giving rise to the speculation that their aim is to force a vote to secede from Ukraine. They are currently in a standoff, with the militants saying they don’t “have the authority” to negotiate any terms.
Russia has denied any involvement, but reports of military transport vehicles speeding towards Simferopol spread through social media, including pictures and video like the one below:
The interim Ukrainian president warned the Russians not to invade, and even went so far as to demand that Russian forces not leave their naval base. Eventually the military transports turned around away from Simferopol, making it appear that they were merely on a training exercise.
Meanwhile, the toppled president Yanukovic is said to be either in the Crimean, or already in Moscow, which is promising to ensure his safety. He is now accused of crimes against humanity for ordering protesters be shot during the Kiev uprising. Defiantly, he penned a declaration saying he’s still the president of Ukraine, and that he will “fight to the end.”
The “military exercise” that Putin commenced near the border of Ukraine is said to be composed of 150,000 soldiers, the same number that the United States invaded Iraq with. Kerry has also made a statement warning the Russians against invading Ukraine.
Here’s some live video (when it’s available):
Police have moved people away from Crimea parliament. Activists set off firecracker type device when journalists tried to enter this morn.
— Paul Sonne (@PaulSonne) February 27, 2014
— Jonas Grätz (@graetzi) February 27, 2014
supposedly seen heading towards crimean kerfuffle pic.twitter.com/cnYkmsslGl
— Anti-MexyPhobe (@SooperMexican) February 27, 2014
Ukraine’s acting president calls on Russian forces in Crimea not to leave naval base – @AP
— Breaking News (@BreakingNews) February 27, 2014
— Roger Boyes (@rogerboyes) February 27, 2014
— Tony Connelly (@tconnellyRTE) February 27, 2014
— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) February 27, 2014
— Lucian Kim (@Lucian_Kim) February 27, 2014
— The Voice of Russia (@VoiceofRussia) February 27, 2014
БТРы у Симферополя пока хранят молчание http://t.co/tBbsw3BPUV
— Русские Люди (@CallmJoker) February 27, 2014
— Olexander Severyn (@O_Severyn) February 27, 2014
— CEPI (@cepolicy) February 27, 2014
— On Elpeleg (@onelpeleg) February 27, 2014
Ahahaha! The Russian BTRs turned back after being stopped by Ukrainian GAI (traffic police): http://t.co/uG1XbFioXe
— Nikolaus von Twickel (@niktwick) February 27, 2014