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Ukraine minister accuses Russia of 'armed invasion' in Crimea

Published on Feb 28, 2014 3:26 PM

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - Ukraine's Interior Minister Arsen Avakov on Friday accused Russian forces of staging an "armed invasion" in Crimea, claiming they had blocked one air base and entered another airport overnight on the Black Sea peninsula.

The incidents come a day after dozens of pro-Moscow gunmen seized government buildings in the Crimean capital of Simferopol including the regional parliament, which subsequently voted to hold a referendum on May 25 to expand the region's autonomy from Kiev.

"I consider what is happening to be an armed invasion and an occupation," Mr Avakov wrote in a statement on his Facebook page.

He said that troops from Russia's Black Sea fleet - stationed in Russian-speaking Crimea - had blockaded the Belbek airfield near Sevastopol, where Ukrainian soldiers and border guards were stationed.

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