Political tension grows in Ukraine’s Crimea region

Posted: February 28, 2014 in News

Political tension roiled in Ukraine’s Crimea region Friday, as U.S. officials received assurances that Russian military activities there were routine and not intended as a threat to Ukraine sovereignty.

At the same time, Ukrainian officials grappled with rising secessionist passions in the Russian-majority region and faced major disruptions to airport and communications services.

The region’s airspace was closed Friday. Further, the government accused Russian Black Sea forces of trying to seize two airports in Crimea but said Ukrainian security forces had prevented them from taking control.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told Western leaders Friday he wanted normalcy in Ukraine and no further violence.

Ukraine Interior Minister Arsen Avakov earlier characterized the presence of the unidentified armed men, who wore uniforms without insignia, as an “armed invasion.”

Ukraine’s largest telecom firm was unable to provide data and voice connectivity between Crimea and the rest of Ukraine because unknown people seized telecommunications nodes and destroyed cables, it said Friday. There is almost no phone connectivity or Internet service across Crimea, said Ukrtelecom, which is the only landline provider.

The series of events unfolded after ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych gave a defiant performance earlier in the day, insisting he remained his country’s legitimate elected leader and was not giving up.

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