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Russian forces storm Ukraine airbase. Reports of soldier shot.

Shots were fired as armoured vehicles entered the Belbek base near Sevastopol, after a deadline to hand the complex over to Russia expired.

Updated at 4.19pm

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Soldiers in unmarked uniforms sit atop APC at the gate of the Belbek base [Ivan Sekretarev/AP/Press Association Images]

ARMED FORCES BACKED by armoured vehicles have broken inside a Ukrainian airbase in Crimea on Saturday, firing from automatic weapons into the air.

There are reports one Ukrainian soldier has been shot. The base commander confirmed one person had been wounded.

An armoured vehicle rammed through the gate of the base, and an ambulance was also seen approaching with sirens blaring, as armed men went inside and pointed guns at Ukrainian soldiers.

A man in camouflage and sunglasses then dismantled a camera that provided a live feed of the front gate to the base.

At least three armoured personnel carriers enter the complex


(Youtube: Mary Greeley)

Earlier today, the Belbek base wrote on its website that troops inside had received an ultimatum from Russian forces to lay down their weapons and surrender or prepare to be stormed.

“There have been explosions, blast bombs, one Ukrainian soldier has been shot,” Sky’s Stuart Ramsay reported from the scene.

Ramsay said the troops who stormed the complex were believed to be special forces. “They are all balaclaved and have slightly different uniforms to regular Russian soldiers.”

The Ukrainian commander of the base, Yuliy Mamchur, said there was at least one injury. He called his men together, they sang the Ukrainian national anthem and then stood at ease. He said they were going to turn over their weapons.

Russian forces have been seizing Ukrainian military facilities for several days in the Black Sea peninsula, which voted a week ago to secede and join Russia.

Novofedorivka

Elsewhere — around 200 pro-Russian protesters stormed a Ukrainian base in western Crimea, forcing the soldiers to leave as the Ukrainian flag was taken down.

The unarmed crowd yelling “Russia! Russia!” broke through to the base in the town of Novofedorivka and started smashing windows.

Ukrainian servicemen barricaded themselves inside buildings and threw smoke bombs at the intruders from the roof.

Some of the people threw the smoke bombs back at the soldiers.

Russian officers stood outside watching as the protesters took down the Ukrainian flag and put up the white and blue flag of the Russian navy.

“It’s my unit and I have to protect it!” a Ukrainian soldier yelled to the Russian officers from the roof.

A Russian military officer then went inside the building to negotiate with the Ukrainians as the crowd of protesters were told to leave. Several dozen soldiers were later seen walking out of the base, leaving it empty, with Russian soldiers standing outside.

The spokesman of the Ukraine defence ministry in Crimea, Vladislav Seleznyov, cited sources at the base as saying that the attackers were mostly non-locals.

“There are some locals among the attackers, but a lot of non-locals. We do not recognise these faces,” the source from the base said, according to Seleznyov.

The developments come a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation incorporating Crimea into Russia.

Includes reporting from AFP & Associated Press

First posted at 4.11pm

Read: Welcome to Russia… Putin plans firework display to mark Crimea accession

Read: Fitch downgrades Russia rating as EU adds sanctions to 12 more people

Read: US and Russia impose sanctions on each other over the crisis in Crimea

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