SIMFEROPOL (AFP) - A group of armed men on Saturday, March 22, 2014, seized control of the Slavutich, one of the last navy ships in Crimea still flying Ukraine's flag, a government spokesman said.
The Slavutich had been blockaded in the Crimean port of Sevastopol by the Russian navy and had distanced itself from the dock in an attempt to prevent an assault.
But it became increasingly isolated in a region that is strongly hostile to the new pro-Western government in Kiev.
"Sources in Sevastopol indicate that members of the (pro-Russian) militia and Russian special forces have seized the Slavutich," the defence ministry's spokesman in Crimea Vladislav Seleznyov said on his Facebook page, citing local sources.
Gunmen seized another Ukrainian navy ship the Ternopil in the same port on Thursday. The commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Alexander Vitko, reportedly boarded the Slavutich at the time to try to negotiate a surrender.