Russia reinforces military presence in Crimea

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Associated Press

Posted on March 8, 2014 at 6:32 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 8 at 6:33 PM

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Dozens of military trucks carrying armed soldiers have been seen in Crimea today as Russia reinforces its presence in the disputed Ukrainian peninsula.

The Russians have denied their armed forces are active in Crimea, but an Associated Press reporter trailed one military convoy that included vehicles with Russian license plates and numbers indicating that they were from the Moscow region.

A Crimean-based spokesman for the Ukrainian armed forces tells the AP that witnesses reported seeing amphibious military ships unloading around 200 military vehicles in eastern Crimea last night. He says the equipment doesn't have insignia identifying it as Russian, but he says "we have no doubt as to their allegiance."

The amphibious operation appears to be one of the largest movements of Russian military forces since they appeared in Crimea a week ago.

The strategic peninsula in southern Ukraine has become the flashpoint in the battle for Ukraine, where three months of protests sent President Viktor Yanukovych (yah-noo-KOH'-vich) fleeing to Russia. A majority of people in Crimea identify with Russia, and Moscow's Black Sea Fleet is based there, as is Ukraine's.

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