(Adds fresh account showing Russian troops remain in place)
KIEV, March 15 Ukraine's military scrambled
aircraft and paratroops to confront Russian troops landing on a
spit of land between Crimea and the mainland, defence officials
said and the foreign ministry demanded their immediate
The border guard service said Ukrainian forces had taken up
defensive positions on Arbatskaya Strelka, running parallel to
the east of Crimea, now controlled by Russian forces. It said
about 60 Russian troops had landed on the strip and begun
digging in, assisted by three armoured personnel carriers.
Six Russian helicopters arrived with 60 more servicemen
about two hours later outside the village of Strelkovoye. The
border guard service said talks between the two sides
established that the Russian servicemen were "guarding against
possible terrorist acts" against a gas pumping station.
"At this time, there is no threat of confrontation," the
Ukrainian border guard service said.
The defence ministry had earlier said troops dispatched to
Arbatskaya Strelka had "immediately" repelled the incursion.
Ukraine's foreign ministry said the village had been
occupied by Russian forces, though the border guards gave a
different version. "The ministry is making public the Russian
incursion and demands the immediate withdrawal of Russian armed
forces from Ukraine's territory," it said.
Crimea is home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet under a
post-Soviet deal signed with Ukraine. The peninsula has been
under the control of Russian forces for two weeks.
Two main roads link Crimea to the mainland, at Armyansk in
the west and Chonhar in the east. However, there is a third,
minor road connection from the 120 km (75 mile) long Arbatskaya
Strelka. Strelkovoye is 30 km (20 miles) south of the town of
Henichesk on the Ukrainian mainland.
(Reporting Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by