Crimean air base switches allegiance to local authorities

Crimean air base switches allegiance to local authorities
Mon Mar 3, 2014 18:36:16

The Ukrainian Air Force 240th tactical aviation brigade based near Sevastopol has switched allegiance to the authorities of Crimea.

“Today the command of the 204th base in Belbek has declared that it stands with the people of Crimea,” a spokesman for the local authorities told Interfax.

The air base is manned by more than 800 troops and has almost 50 planes, although most of them are not operational.

With the addition of the personnel of the base, the total strength of Crimean military has almost reached 6,000 people, he said.

Belbek Airport hosts 45 MiG-29 fighter jets and 4 L-39 training jets. However only four fighters and one training aircraft are currently operational, the report said.

Crimean authorities earlier denounced the self-proclaimed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The majority of troops in Crimea switched sides in favor of the local authorities.

On Sunday, head of the Ukrainian Navy Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky declared his pledge of allegiance to the Crimea region amid a growing tension between Russia and the West over the semi-autonomous territory.

Ukraine has been gripped by unrest since November 2013, when ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, refrained from signing an Association Agreement with the European Union in favor of closer ties with Russia.

On February 23, amid rising violence in Ukraine, the parliament ousted Yanukovych and named Oleksandr Turchynov, the legislature’s speaker, as interim president.


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