Reports: Ukrainian base in Crimea attacked

Russian troops have reportedly launched an attack on a military base in Crimea, though no shots have been fired, according to the Interfax news agency.

The Interfax report said a Russian military truck broke down the gates and entered the base in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, which has about 100 Ukrainian soldiers, The Associated Press reported.

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A Ukrainian air force colonel told Time that the attack began soon after dark on Friday, and the Russian forces have seized part of the air force base.

“The attack is on,” said Colonel Viktor Kukharchenko, who is deputy commander of another Ukrainian air force base in Crimea. “The Russian forces are now trying to take the rest of the base. Their commander is negotiating with our forces, demanding they lay down their arms and surrender.”

Interfax said there were about 20 “attackers” who entered the base and some threw stun grenades, according to the AP.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Friday that the United States estimates there are as many as 20,000 Russian soldiers now in Crimea.

“They have added forces over the last week or so,” Kirby said at a press briefing. “We don't have perfect visibility into the rate of change there, and our ability to provide an estimate is somewhat limited, just based on our knowledge of the situation on the ground. But clearly, they have thousands of soldiers in the Crimea.”