At least one Ukrainian servicemen has been shot dead in Crimea after forces suspected of being loyal to Russia stormed a military base.
Unconfirmed reports also claimed a soldier from Crimea’s pro-Russian self-defence force was killed at the facility in Simferopol.
The deaths, the first in the peninsula since pro-Russian forces took control in February, prompted Kyiv to authorise its troops to fire in self-defence.
Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk denounced the assault as a ‘war crime’.
“We understand the motive for this provocation. Today Russian military representatives started shooting at Ukrainian servicemen. This is a war crime,’‘ he said.
Prime Minister Yatsenyuk also claimed the conflict had entered a military phase and called for international talks to prevent a further escalation.
From Simferopol euronews Sergio Cantone said: “The tension in Crimea is mounting and it’s increasingly becoming a dangerous game. Some are already saying there’s been a shift, from the political phase, to something else, certainly more muscular in nature anyway.”