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Armed men seize two Crimea airports, Ukraine blames Russian forces

Friday, February 28, 2014 - 01:33

Feb. 28 - A group of armed men in military uniform takes control of two airports in the Crimean region, a move Ukraine's government calls an invasion. Sarah Toms reports.

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In the early hours of Friday morning, they arrived and took control of two airports in the Ukrainian region of Crimea. Here at Simferopol aiport the men carrying assault rifles and machine guns can be seen patrolling the airport grounds. They are move freely in the control tower but appear to be allowing the airport to operate as normal. This Simferopol resident says the armed men have not entered the passenger terminal. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) SIMFEROPOL RESIDENT, OLEG, SAYING: "I am very worried, but what can I do at the moment? I don't know who they are, I don't know what it's about. My family is staying here, but I think that everything will be all right, I believe in the better." This man is called Vladimir. He says he's a volunteer helping the "People's MIlitia of Crimea". (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) REPRESENTATIVE OF GROUP CALLED PEOPLE'S MILITIA OF CRIMEA, VLADIMIR, SAYING: "We are here to ensure general order. We don't want radicals coming on planes from Kiev, from UNA-UNSO, people from Ukraine to come here and make trouble." (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) REPRESENTATIVE OF GROUP CALLED PEOPLE'S MILITIA OF CRIMEA, VLADIMIR, SAYING: "It was our initiative in order to stop the fire from spreading into Crimea. That's why we don't want radicalism to come here, we don't want fascism in Crimea, we want peace here." But Ukraine's interior minister says its an invasion and occupation by Russian forces. The Ukrainian government also says that Russian naval forces have also taken over a military airport near Sevastopol. Russia has repeatedly declared it will defend the interests of its citizens in Ukraine, but says it would not intervene by force. Relations between the two countries have been strained since the Ukrainian President Viktor Yanokovich was ousted this month. Yanokovich a stalwart supporter of Russia is now on the run and wanted for mass murder. These tensions are particularly evident in Crimea, Ukraine's only Russian-majority region, and the last bastion of opposition to Ukraine's new leadership.

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Armed men seize two Crimea airports, Ukraine blames Russian forces

Friday, February 28, 2014 - 01:33