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russia

Ukraine crisis: Russian Troops Fire Warning Shots at Belbek airbase in Crimea

59m ago
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Footage captures the tense exchange between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers as the first shots in the crisis are fired. Russian soldiers have fired warning shots into the air as around 300 Ukrainian troops marched on the seized Belbek airbase in Crimea. It comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken for the first time since the crisis began, warning he will use "all means" to protect Russian citizens against what he called an "unconstitutional coup" in Ukraine. At the Belbek base in Sevastopol, around a dozen Russian soldiers warned the unarmed Ukrainian servicemen to back away as they tried to take their positions back. The Russians then fired several shots into the air, saying they would shoot the Ukrainians. A video of the confrontation shows a Russian soldier saying to the Ukrainians: "I want your officer here. We'll be shooting your legs." A Ukrainian soldier responds: "You will pay for this. You'll be responsible." "America stands with us," a Ukrainian soldier says. Sky's Katie Stallard, who is at the airbase, said wives and mothers of the Ukrainian servicemen were standing between the two lines to prevent any bloodshed. She said: "There are around a dozen women, wives and mothers, standing in front of their men because they believe they (Russian soldiers) will be more reluctant to fire on them." Some 16,000 Russian troops are on the ground in the region - a move that the US said is in a clear violation of international law. The US has suspended all military engagements with Russia over its deployment of troops in Crimea. Mr Putin has ordered troops taking part in military exercises close to the Ukrainian border in western Russia to return to their permanent bases on Tuesday. But hundreds of Russian soldiers have remained at a military base near the Crimean capital Simferopol, preventing Ukrainian soldiers from going in or out. Russian forces have also reportedly seized a border checkpoint on the Ukrainian border between Russia and Crimea. Moscow's UN envoy told a stormy meeting of the UN Security Council that Ukraine's ousted leader Viktor Yanukovych had sent a letter to Mr Putin requesting that he use Russia's military to restore law and order in Ukraine. Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin, reading from an unofficial translation of the letter he said was dated March 1, said: "The country has plunged into chaos and anarchy. "The country is in the grip of outright terror and violence driven by the West. People are persecuted on political and language grounds. "In this context, I appeal to the President of Russia Vladimir V Putin to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to re-establish the rule of law, peace, order, stability and to protect the people of Ukraine." But US President Barack Obama warned Moscow it would find itself "on the wrong side of history" - and that Russia's deployment of troops in Ukraine violates international law. He spoke shortly after Mr Putin's aides were forced to deny reports that Russian forces have given the Ukrainian navy until 3am (5am local time) on Tuesday to surrender.