Threats from Moscow, ignored by Kiev: what next for the Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea?

n13-iconThe Observer reports: The two Ural trucks, full of troops, arrived under cover of darkness and a pea-souper fog at the Ukrainian missile defence base outside Sevastopol late on Friday night, and rammed their way through the gates. Once inside, the Russian troops fanned out and screamed that they would shoot to kill if the Ukrainians did not surrender.

After some brief tussles the situation was calmed and the Russians eventually left, their trucks racing out of the base.

Outside, members of a local “self-defence” volunteer unit harassed journalists, and the deputy commander of the base briefly appeared to give comments. “We ignored their orders and eventually they left,” he said, as one of the masked volunteers shone a light in his face and tried to stop him speaking. “I guess they will be back soon.”

There are several thousand Ukrainian military personnel on more than a dozen bases across the Crimea, creating what could be the most explosive problem facing the Russians in their operation to annex the peninsula.

Uncertain of their status since the Crimean parliament announced that it wants the territory to join with Russia, the soldiers feel threatened by Moscow and abandoned by Kiev. Having sworn an oath to Ukraine, they could now, within a week, find themselves in one country and their homes and families in another. [Continue reading…]

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