Others here are more knowledgeable than me about Ukraine, but there is no diary yet on what may be a big development. It is just being reported that dozens of armed gunmen have seized a government building and the parliament building in Simferopol, the regional capital in Crimea. http://www.cnn.com/...
They raised a Russian flag over the parliament building.
Here's the lede from that article:
Dozens of armed men seized the regional government administration building and parliament in Ukraine's southern Crimea region Thursday and raised the Russian flag in a challenge to the Eastern European country's new leaders.
Crimea, with its ethnic Russian majority, is the last big bastion of opposition to the new political leadership in Kiev after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster Saturday.
The incident, coming a day after Russia ordered surprise military exercises on Ukraine's doorstep, has raised fears about the push and pull of opposing allegiances in a country sandwiched between Russia and the European Union.
In a diary here yesterday (seach Tags for "Ukraine") I suggested that Putin may annex Crimea. Others thought that was implausible.
Here's another article on this from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/... . Here's a paragraph from that article:
The men occupying the parliament building in the regional capital, Simferopol, early on Thursday did not come out to voice any demands. They wore black and orange ribbons, a Russian symbol of the victory in World War II. The men also put up a sign saying “Crimea is Russia.”Apparently so far it's not clear which group these gunmen are affiliated with. So far they've made no statements or demands. That last article reports that they threw a flash grenade in response to an inquiry from a journalist. That's odd behavior for political dissidents.
UPDATE: Ukraine has reacted by bluntly warning Russia that any movement of Russian troops from bases in Crimea will be considered military aggression. http://news.yahoo.com/... . Here's the lede:
Ukraine issued a blunt warning to Russia on Thursday after dozens of pro-Kremlin gunmen in combat fatigues seized parliament and government buildings on the volatile Crimean peninsula and Moscow said it was protecting the ousted leader.UPDATE 2: Here's an update from BBC News: http://www.bbc.com/... . Here's the lede:
The dawn raid came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin stoked fears of Moscow using its military might to sway the outcome of Ukraine's three-month standoff by ordering snap combat readiness drills near the border with the ex-Soviet state.
Interim president Oleksandr Turchynov responded by telling a boisterous parliament session that any movement of Russian troops out of their Black Sea bases in Crimea "will be considered as military aggression".
Both Ukrainian and Russian papers express concern at the rising tensions between supporters of Ukraine's new leaders and pro-Russian separatists in the Russian-majority Crimea region.UPDATE 3: Here's another good article: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/... . Especially interesting is this passage:
While the Ukrainian press focuses on the potential danger of Crimean secession, some Russian papers accuse the historically anti-Russian Crimean Tatars - a Muslim ethnic group - of deliberately stoking up tension in the region.
Meanwhile, several regional Crimean papers warn that the situation could easily escalate further.
Maxim, a pro-Russian activist who refused to give his last name, said he and other activists had camped overnight outside the local parliament in Simferopol when 50-60 heavily armed men wearing flak jackets and carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers and sniper rifles took over the building.Russian special forces?
"Our activists were sitting there all night calmly, building the barricades," he said. "At 5 o'clock unknown men turned up and went to the building. They got into the courtyard and put everyone on the ground.
"They were asking who we were. When we said we stand for the Russian language and Russia, they said: 'Don't be afraid. We're with you.' Then they began to storm the building bringing down the doors," he said. "They didn't look like volunteers or amateurs; they were professionals. This was clearly a well-organized operation."
"Who are they?" he added. "Nobody knows."