Ukraine Navy's New Leader Switches Sides

Denys Berezovksy makes stunning announcement to TV reporters

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 2, 2014 1:43 PM CST

(Newser) – Newly appointed to lead Ukraine's navy, Rear Admiral Denys Berezovksy made his first move 24 hours later: defecting to the Russian side. Berezovksy today told reporters that he supported the Crimea region's new and unofficial pro-Russian leader, the BBC reports. Standing alongside that leader—Prime Minister Sergiy Aksyonov—the admiral promised to "strictly obey" his orders and "defend the lives and freedom" of Crimea's people. Today marks the beginning of the "navy of the autonomous republic of Crimea," Berezovksy said.

In response, Ukrainian officials opened a treason case against the admiral and quickly replaced him, the Telegraph reports. Meanwhile, the Ukraine's navy flagship has defected, reports the Russian-based RT.com, and Russian soldiers have surrounded Ukrainian military bases in Crimea. The Russian army is also said to be digging trenches along the Ukraine's main border. Internationally, the US, Canada, France, and the UK are suspending G-8 talks slated for June in Russia, and John Kerry says Vladimir Putin will suffer for this "incredible act of aggression" against Crimea.

Ukrainian sailors prepare the Ukrainian anti-submarine ship Ternopil in the  Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine, Sunday, March 2, 2014.
Ukrainian sailors prepare the Ukrainian anti-submarine ship "Ternopil" in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea, Ukraine, Sunday, March 2, 2014.   (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic)
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