Crimean airport gambit adds pressure on new Ukrainian government

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Crimean airport gambit adds pressure on new Ukrainian government

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The seizing of key airports in Crimea by unidentified armed men has raised the tension between Kyiv and Moscow.

For the moment not a shot has been fired, and normal airport operations have not been interrupted.

Andriy Paruby, Ukraine’s top security official, accused the Kremlin of commanding armed groups in Crimea where the two airports have been taken over.

“These are separate groups … commanded by the Kremlin,” Paruby, secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, told a televised briefing in Kyiv.

He said similar actions had been prevented elsewhere in Ukraine.

Euronew reporter Sergio Cantone, who is on the scene in Simferopol, said” “Inside the airport complex, there are now armed men who have been checking the perimeter of the airport. They are in impeccable combat uniforms, with rather sophisticated modern weapons and sniper rifles.

“They have not released any statement and are not wearing any distinctive markings or recognisable insignia, so they cannot be identified as belonging to any army. But witnesses here say they are Russian soldiers.

“At the moment the airport is in business, it seems like a normal day in a normal airport. There are flights departing and arriving, and people arriving at the terminal all seem unconcerned. I do not know if inside they are, but there is absolutely no panic.”