March 9, 2014
Russian forces tightened their grip on Crimea on Sunday despite a U.S. warning to Moscow that annexing the southern Ukrainian region would close the door to diplomacy in a tense East-West standoff.
Russian forces’ seizure of the Black Sea peninsula has been bloodless but tensions are mounting following the decision by pro-Russian groups that have taken over the regional parliament to make Crimea part of Russia.
The operation to seize Crimea began within days of Ukraine’s pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovich’s flight from the country last month. Yanukovich was toppled after three months of demonstrations against a decision to spurn a free trade deal with the European Union for closer ties with Russia.
In the latest armed action, Russians took over a Ukrainian border post on the western edge of Crimea at around 6 a.m. (0400) GMT, trapping about 30 personnel inside, a border guard spokesman said.
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