Russian forces cross Crimea border to seize gas plant on eve of referendum

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March 15, 2014: Pro-Russian soldiers walk past trucks that define the limits of their staging area in the vicinity of a Ukrainian military base in Perevalne, Ukraine. (AP)

Russian forces backed by helicopter gunships and armored vehicles Saturday took control of a village near the border with Crimea on the eve of a referendum on whether the region should seek annexation by Moscow, a Ukrainian official said.

The action in Strilkove appeared to be the first move outside Crimea, where Russian forces have been in effective control since late last month. There were no reports of gunfire or injuries. The incident raises tensions already at a high level before Sunday’s referendum.

In a statement, the Foreign Ministry denounced the foray outside Crimea, and said Ukraine “reserves the right to use all necessary measures to stop the military invasion by Russia.”

The village is on a long spit reaching northward from the main part of the Black Sea peninsula, about six miles north of the border between Crimea and the Kherson region.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian border guard service, Oleg Slobodyan, told The Associated Press the Russians, about 120 in all, took control of a natural gas distribution station in the village. The Foreign Ministry said the force consisted of about 80 and didn’t mention the station, but said the village was seized.

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One thought on “Russian forces cross Crimea border to seize gas plant on eve of referendum

  1. Pingback: Statement of the MFA of Ukraine with respect to assault landing of the Russian Armed Forces in the Kherson region on March 15 « Engineering Evil

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