Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention

Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen says Russia's actions 'threaten peace and security in Europe'

John Kerry has called Russia's military incursion into Ukraine “an incredible act of aggression” and said President Putin has made “a stunning, wilful” choice to invade another country.

The US Secretary of State urged Russia to respect the democratic process through which the Ukrainian people ousted their pro-Russian president and assembled a new government.

He raised the possibility of boycotting the June meeting of the Group of Eight leading industrialised countries in Sochi, Russia, and said the country could face visa bans, asset freezes, and trade and investment penalties.

His comments came as it emerged that the newly-appointed head of Ukraine's navy had “defected” to the Crimea region, pledging allegiance to its unrecognised pro-Russian leader and surrendering the country's Sevastopol headquarters.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Facebook on Sunday that Ukraine's leaders had seized power illegally and predicted their rule would end with "a new revolution" and new bloodshed.

Medvedev said that while Viktor Yanukovich had practically no authority he remained the legitimate head of state according the constitution, adding: "If he is guilty before Ukraine - hold an impeachment procedure ... and try him."

"Everything else is lawlessness. The seizure of power," Medvedev said on his Facebook page. "And that means such order will be extremely unstable. It will end in a new revolution. New blood."

President Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday that Russian citizens and Russian-speakers in Ukraine faced an "unflagging" threat from ultranationalists, and that the measures Moscow has taken were completely fitting given the "extraordinary situation", the Kremlin said.

In a telephone conversation during which Merkel expressed concern about developments in Ukraine, she and Putin agreed that Russia and Germany would continue consultations in bilateral and multilateral formats to seek the "normalisation" of the situation, a Kremlin statement said.

The Ukrainian security council said it has fired Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky, and that it would be opening a case against him for treason.

David Cameron announced today that British government ministers will be boycotting Russia’s 2014 Sochi Winter Paralympics, which open on Friday, in the wake of the ongoing international crisis in Ukraine.

Earlier today, the country's acting prime minister saying that Ukraine is “on the brink of disaster” after hundreds of unidentified gunmen engaged in a standoff with troops at a base in the Crimean peninsula.

Emerging from a closed session of parliament in Kiev today, Arseniy Yatsenyuk described President Putin's decision to send in troops as a “declaration of war”, and said: “There was no reason for the Russian Federation to invade Ukraine.”

Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen convened an emergency meeting today to call on Russia to “stop its military activities and its threats”.

“What Russia is doing now in Ukraine violates the principles of the United Nations Charter,” he said. “It threatens peace and security in Europe.”

He was joined in his condemnation of Russia's actions by a host of western powers, and yesterday US President Barack Obama held a 90-minute phone conversation with Mr Putin himself.

“President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia's clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law,” the White House said.

This afternoon hundreds of unidentified gunmen arrived outside Ukraine's infantry base in Privolnoye, not far from the Crimean regional capital of Simferopol.

The convoy of at least 13 vehicles with Russian licence plates - each containing around 30 soldiers - surrounded the base and refused to allow Ukrainian soldiers to enter or leave. The forces inside the base have reportedly positioned a tank at the gate.

Eyewitnesses in Crimea earlier said that a convoy including a Tiger tank and two ambulances was heading for Simferopol from the Black Sea coast.

A Russian army vehicle outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava A Russian army vehicle outside a Ukrainian border guard post in the Crimean town of Balaclava And last night, Russian warships were sighted off the coast of Crimea - in operations which violate the country's agreement with Ukraine on usage of the Sebastapol naval base.

The movements come after Mr Putin was granted permission for a military intervention by a unanimous vote in the Russian parliament.

Yesterday Mr Yatseniuk had told reporters: “Military intervention would be the beginning of war and the end of any relations between Ukraine and Russia.”

Russian troops took over much of the strategic Crimean peninsula without firing a shot and the new government in Kiev has been powerless to respond.

Russia’s current position is a breach of the UN Charter and the 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, as well as the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act, the White House has said.

A so-called Maidan self-defence unit member in Independence square in central Kiev, where protesters resumed their public display of defiance today A so-called Maidan self-defence unit member in Independence square in central Kiev, where protesters resumed their public display of defiance today In its statement after Mr Putin and Mr Obama's conversation, the US said it had “suspended upcoming participation” in G8 preparatory meetings, adding: “Going forward, Russia’s continued violation of international law will lead to greater political and economic isolation.”

That decision appears likely to be matched by fellow G8 member France. Foreign minister Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio today: “France's position is to call for the suspension of preparation ahead of the G8 meeting in Sochi as long as the Russian partners have not returned to principles in agreement with the G8 and G7.”

Read more: Kiev vows to fight after Russian clears way for Crimea invasion
Moscow catches the world off guard
Ukraine crisis: So, how far will President Putin go to keep his hands on Crimea?
No wonder Vladimir Putin says Crimea is Russian

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian foreign minister Andriy Deshchytsya said he had met both European and US officials and sent a request asking NATO to “examine all possibilities to protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine”.

The BBC reported that what appear to be trenches are being dug out by Russian troops on the Crimean border. No shots have yet been fired in the growing crisis.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
News
Floyd
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Real Estate Solicitor 2+PQE - City

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGH VALUE REAL ESTATE / RESID...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Are you looking for part time/ ...

SEN (SLD/PMLD) Teacher

£120 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a quailed Teacher ...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: Currently looking for teachers ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?