WASHINGTON — Russian soldiers took control of two Ukrainian naval bases in the Crimean peninsula, after surrounding the facilities since they entered the autonomous Ukrainian region several weeks ago.
Reuters reported that one of the bases was the Ukrainian navy’s headquarters and Russian soldiers raised the Russian flag above the facility.
The U.S. warned Russia that it has started on a “dark path” toward isolation from the West and the international community. This comes as the Russian economy suffered significant setbacks after their military was sent into the Crimean peninsula. The Ukrainian army has been partially mobilized to react in case of a full Russian invasion.
No gunfire was exchanged between Ukrainian navy personnel and Russian soldiers, who stormed the base yesterday. A naval captain by the name of Oleksander Balanyuk said, “This morning they stormed the compound. They cut the gates open, but I heard no shooting…this thing should have been solved politically. Now all I can do is stand here at the gate. There is nothing else I can do.”
The Ukrainian naval commander, Admiral Serhiy Haiduk, was accosted and apparently taken to an unknown location by Russian special forces.
At another naval facility occupied by the Russians, a major in the Ukrainian navy named Eduard Kusnarenko told Reuters that “Russian troops came and asked us to leave the base, which we did.”
The West has only imposed sanctions on a handful of Russian and Ukrainian government officials and has not taken military action. Other former Soviet Union republics are concerned that they could be next, as Russia’s context for intervention was to defend the Russian-speaking people of Crimea.