Armed Russian gunmen took control of the parliament building and other regional government buildings in Simferopol, the capital of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula on the Black Sea yesterday and raised the Russian flag, putting Ukraine's sovereignty over Crimea under increasing threat. Earlier, Russian-backed fighters were seen establishing a checkpoint on the main road in Crimea, The Globe and Mail (Canadian) website reports today (February 27, 2014).
Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday ordered the Russian military in its central and western commands -- more than 150,000 troops with hundreds of tanks and helicopter gunships -- to be put on alert for "war games" in the areas bordering Ukraine, while fighter jets patrolled the border.
Meanwhile, Moscow media reported that deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych -- who fled from Ukraine for fear of being killed by protesters -- had been seen in a Moscow hotel and is now staying in a Kremlin sanatorium just outside the city.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu characterized the military action in Ukraine as a snap "military drill," similar to others Putin has ordered in the past in Russia. But the timing of the military moves raised sky-high tensions in Ukraine, as well as suspicions that Russia may be planning to take permanent control of the Crimean peninsula, and prompted warnings to Russia from U.S. officials.