Russians Seize Base, Ask, Don't You Watch TV?

Another Ukraine outpost in Crimea is gone
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2014 11:26 AM CDT
Belbek air base commander Col. Yuliy Mamchur of Ukraine, center, reacts to a request to leave the base by a leader of Russian-backed forces.   (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
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(Newser) – The last of the Ukraine troops still on the job in Crimea are packing it in. Pro-Russian forces used armored vehicles to smash through the gate of a military base in Belbek and seize control today, reports AP. Gunfire and explosions could be heard, and two people were taken away in an ambulance, but the base commander ordered his troops to lay down their arms to avoid more casualties, reports the Washington Post. The newspaper recounts an exchange of note between a Russian officer and a Ukrainian officer at the gate prior to the troops moving in. When the Ukraine officer asked for proof that Crimea was now Russian territory, his counterpart replied, “When was the last time you watched television?”

The base commander tells Reuters that the Russians were taking him away to an undisclosed location for talks. Asked whether he'd be safe, he said, "That remains to be seen. For now we are placing all our weapons in the base's storage." It's not clear whether any other military bases in Crimea remain under Ukraine control. Most of the stories refer to the one in Belbek as "one of the last."

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