Armed Men In Russian Uniforms Occupy Airports In Crimea

Dozens of armed men took over Simferopol and Sevastopol airports in the Ukrainian region of Crimea Friday morning.

1. Updated – 3:30 a.m. ET

2. A group of armed men occupied Simferopol Airport and Sevastopol Airport in Crimea early Friday morning.

AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

3. Arsen Avakov, Ukraine’s new interior minister, said on Facebook, “I can only describe this as a military invasion and occupation.”

6. Reportedly the estimated 50 men at the airport were wearing the same uniforms to those who stormed local government buildings in Simferopol and raised the Russian flag.

David Mdzinarishvili / Reuters

"Abandon hope all ye who enter here" RT @ChristopherJM The entrance to Sevastopol. via @euromaidan

— max seddon (@maxseddon)

Inadvertently deleted previous. Here is original photo from @Reuters, alleging Russian troops at airport in Crimea

— Threat Watch (@ThreatWatch1)

First close up high detail image now circulating of the group of well armed men that took the #Crimea airport #OSINT

— Nathan J Hunt (@ISNJH)

10. Witnesses apparently told Interfax news agency the men with “Russian Navy ensigns” surrounded Simferopol Airport’s domestic terminal.

AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

A volunteer helping the men named Vladimir has reportedly told Reuters that he said he did not know where the men came from, adding: “I’m with the People’s Militia of Crimea. We’re simple people, volunteers. We’re here at the airport to maintain order. We’ll meet the planes with a nice smile — the airport is working as normal.”

A soldier at Crimea's Semferipol airport has confirmed to local Channel 1 TV that they are Russian. #Ukraine

— James Mates (@jamesmatesitv)

12. Apparently Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has denied blocking Belbek Airport in Sevastopol.

Russia's Black Sea fleet denies blocking Belbek airport (but apparently not Simferopol?) http://t.co/zlYFqlKoeh

— max seddon (@maxseddon)

13. The AP reports the men have apparently apologized and left Simferopol Airport after no Ukrainian troops had landed at the airport.

David Mdzinarishvili / Reuters

Apparently the airport has “no comment,” on the situation but, as the the volunteer Vladimir told Reuters, the airport seems to be functioning normally.

14. Tensions with Russia are high after the recent unrest in Crimea and Moscow sheltering the now fugitive ex-president of Ukraine.

AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev

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