Ukraine issues 'three hour' Crimea ultimatum to release navy chief
Published on Mar 20, 2014 1:32 AM
SEVASTOPOL (AFP) - Ukraine's acting president warned Crimea's Kremlin-backed leaders on Wednesday they had only three hours to release the captured head of the splintered ex-Soviet country's navy or face "an adequate response".
Pro-Russian forces had earlier seized two Crimean navy bases and detained Ukraine's naval chief as Moscow tightened its grip on the flashpoint peninsula despite Western warnings that its "annexation" would not go unpunished.
Dozens of despondent Ukrainian soldiers - one of them in tears - filed out of the Ukraine's main navy headquarters in the historic Black Sea port city of Sevastopol after it was stormed by hundreds of pro-Kremlin protesters and masked Russian troops.
The local prosecutor's office said Ukraine's navy commander Sergiy Gayduk - appointed after his predecessor switched allegiance in favour of Crimea's pro-Kremlin authorities at the start of the month - had been detained on suspicion of "ordering Ukrainian military units... to open fire on peaceful civilians".
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