Russians Seize More Crimean Facilities, Demand Ukrainians Surrender

PHOTO: Heavily-armed troops displaying no identifying insignia stand guard outside a local government building, March 3, 2014 in Simferopol, Ukraine.
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Russian forces seized two more Ukrainian facilities in Crimea today as others surrounded Ukrainian military bases, demanding their surrender.

In Balaklava, a picturesque coastal town on the Black Sea, pro-Russian troops were in control of Coast Guard base today. The seizure marked the end of a week of peaceful negotiations, a Russian man speaking for the troops told ABC News. In the end those on the base who did not want to side with Russia left after laying down their weapons.

A captain in Balaklava’s port said that until a few days ago, a Russian naval ship had blocked the mouth of the port, giving Ukrainian naval ships the choice to leave or defect. Most, around 15, left for Odessa while a handful remained.

In Kerch, the easternmost point in Crimea, a ferry terminal was taken by pro-Russian troops today, the Associated Press reported.

Over the past few days, highly-organized and heavily-armed troops believed to be Russians – but bearing no identifying patches - have encircled Ukrainian bases, demanding they surrender.

Col. Igor Mamchur, the deputy commander of a naval operations base in the Crimean capital Simferopol, told ABC News on Sunday that Russian forces had twice asked he and his men to leave but so far they have refused. His orders were to stand firm, he said, adding that they have weapons and are ready to fight. The colonel said that there are five Crimea bases plus Naval HQ in Sevastopol that have not surrendered.

“I don't take orders from them, I get orders from others," Mamchur told ABC News.

At the Ukraine’s naval headquarters in Sevastopol, a handful of Russian troops were in front of the base while Ukrainian soldier walked around just inside the fence.

But there have been no clashes so far, Russia managing to take control of Crimea without firing a shot. The airports, parliament and other government buildings are under the control of the militias.

So far, Ukraine's new government and the West have appeared powerless to counter Russia's tactics. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk insisted that Crimea remains Ukrainian territory despite the presence of Russian military.

"Any attempt of Russia to grab Crimea will have no success at all. Give us some time," he said at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who is visiting Kiev.

"For today, no military options (are) on the table," he said, adding that what they urgently need is an economic and political support.

Russia’s foreign minister said today that Russian troops are in Crimea to protect Russian citizens and that they would remain "until the normalization of the political situation."

The United States has demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops, calling Russia’s military action the "invasion and occupation of Ukrainian territory."

Secretary of State John Kerry is being dispatched to Kiev on Tuesday. He has floated the possibility of pushing for economic sanctions against Russia, saying “all options are on the table.”

“The hope of the U.S. and everybody in the world is not to see this escalate into a military confrontation,” he told ABC’s "This Week."

At Balaklava’s Coast Guard base, a soldier speaking to reporters said he was a Russian contractor from the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don. Two guards were stationed outside the base’s front gate, wearing ski masks and standing behind large shields.

The surrender had been an emotional affair, the contractor said, with troops who support Russia staying inside and hugging those who were leaving.

Asked if he was Ukrainian or Russian, one of the troops standing guard out front responded, “My grandfather used to say Ukraine is the best Russia has.”

European Union foreign ministers met today, working on a joint response to Russia’s military incursion that could include economic sanctions. In addition, the United States is laying groundwork to kick Russia out of the G-8 due to the military action in Crimea.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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