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By Askold Krushelnycky

I am at Simferopol airport where green uniformed professional soldiers with no insignia took over during the night and are being backed up by local volunteers.

The Ukrainian government says these are not Ukrainian soldiers and they are definitely not local people wearing uniform. The Ukrainian government is calling this an invasion. An ex-British paratrooper working with one of the TV crews says they are professional, carrying their guns the way they should be, with safety catches on.

I have tried to talk to them but they are not saying anything. I have tried to ask for a commander or spokesman but nobody will talk to the Press. The airport is operating normally.A contact at the Ukrainian Navy base in Sevastopol says they are not on high alert but of course there is a great deal of tension. 

The same type of green-uniformed soldiers have surrounded the military airport in Sevastopol. Some Ukrainian military are inside.  Russians have not tried to surround or block the Ukrainian base.

The black uniformed people who took over the Crimean parliament building in Simferopol a few days ago are still there. I, along with many others, believe they are from the Berkut units which were disbanded by Ukraine earlier this week.  The Crimean Berkut was particularly aggressive on the Maidan.  The people who have occupied the Parliament look well-trained, as Berkut was, wear the same uniforms and have the same weapons – the only difference being all the insignia has been stripped off.

I am almost certain troops inside Parliament are Berkut and those surrounding the airports are real Russian troops, either from forces stationed here at the Russian naval base or from Russian vessels which were brought in earlier this week.

Meanwhile Yanukovych delivered a TV Press conference earlier today speaking from Rostov on Don, just east of Crimea on the Russian Black Sea Coast.

It may be the case that Putin is holding Yanukovych in order to exploit him as Ukraine’s “legitimate” president in case he decides to take over Crimea. This would allow Putin to portray his actions as a return of the peninsula to the rightful  Ukrainian President, rather than a seperation. Crimea may then be a catalyst in stirring up trouble throughout the rest of Ukraine.

Askold Krushelnycky  is a London-born journalist who has been a correspondent for The Independent, the Sunday Times and the Chicago Tribune.
In 2006, Krushelnycky published An Orange Revolution: A Personal Journey Through Ukrainian History, which briefly discusses the history of Ukraine and documents its Orange Revolution and the events leading up to it.
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