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Russia denies involvement in Crimea airport seizures as mystery over gunmen's identity continues


Ukraine

Russia denies involvement in Crimea airport seizures as mystery over gunmen's identity continues

Russia’s navy has denied involvement in seizures of key Crimean airports.

Unidentified gunmen took control of two of the regions airports on Friday.

Ukrainian border guards say they spotted around 10 Russian helicopters enter Ukrainian airspace over Crimea.

But Russia’s Black Sea fleet, stationed at Sebastopol, denied involvement in the seizures.

Flights in and out of the airports are continuing as normal, despite the seizures.

At the airport in the regional capital Simferopol calm reigns despite the paramilitary presence.

“Crimea is Crimea. Russia is Russia. I have been living here since my birth. Crimea always was Crimean territory. No matter what it is. We do not share the opinions that are being imposed. We do not repress languages,” said a member of the self-proclaimed Crimean Self-Defence force.

“Nobody wants bloodshed. They are just walking around. What could we accuse them of? Nor the police, nor anyone else. They do not violate anything or touch anybody. And they do not speak with anyone,” said Simferopol airport’s Assistant General Director Ihor Startelaki.

For the moment this is a standoff while both sides wait to see what the other does. In Kyiv the Ukrainian government says it is seeking ways to “stabilise” the situation peacefully.

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