General: Armed groups in Crimea are Russian military

Groups of armed forces who have taken over military installations in Crimea are Russian forces, the top commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Europe said in a statement Tuesday, seeking to clear up confusion over where the forces were from. 

“After extensive review of multiple information sources we believe these are Russian military forces acting on clear orders to undermine Ukraine forces in Crimea,” said Air Force Gen. Phil Breedlove. 

In the statement, he said media outlets have reported claims that the troops were “local militia” who are wearing Russian-style fatigues, or were local ''self-defense forces.’'

The evidence is based on “deliberate and painstaking scrutiny of the many sources of data available to our professional military analysts,” he said in the statement. 

The statement included several pictures that showed evidence of Russian military license plates on vehicles used by the armed groups, photos taken by journalists, and video interviews of the forces posted on YouTube. 

“As we move forward and continue to closely monitor the situation in Ukraine, it will be with the understanding of the real identity of these forces,” Breedlove said.