Pro-Russian troops stormed a Ukraine navy base this morning as Hillary Clinton warned other countries near Russia face aggression if President Vladimir Putin is “allowed to get away with” his actions, hours after he signed a treaty on the annexation of Crimea.
Clinton warned that a "two-track" approach toward resolving the crisis that included economic incentives and "standing up for our values” would be taken, shortly after President Putin claimed Crimea for his country in a 66-minute speech laced with invectives against the West and a robust reassertion of Russian power.
"If he's allowed to get away with that, I think you'll see a lot of other countries either directly facing Russian aggression or suborned with their political systems so that they are so intimidated that in effect they are transformed into vassals, not sovereign democracies," Clinton said at an event hosted by the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal at the Palais des Congres.
Meanwhile, the Russian flag was seen flying over the Ukrainian navy's headquarters in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol.
Men in plain clothes were seen entering a building at the naval headquarters.
Ukrainian navy spokesman Sergiy Bogdanov said: "There are about 200 of them, some wearing balaclavas. They are unarmed and no shots have been fired from our side. The officers have barricaded themselves inside the building.”
Tensions increased in Crimea yesterday as Ukraine’s military said an officer had been killed in a confrontation at base in the capital Simferopol, hours after Russian and Crimean leaders signed a treaty absorbing the region into the Russian Federation.
Crimea referendum and independence
Crimea referendum and independence
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A man shows his shirt with the Russian emblem as he celebrates the results of the Crimean referendum at the Lenin Square in Simferopol
2/14 Crimea Referendum
An elderly retired Soviet Navy officer and his wife take a walk in Sevastopol the morning after the referendum
3/14 Crimea Referendum
A man plays accordion as people dance during celebrations in Sevastopol
4/14 Crimea Referendum
People wave Russian flags as fireworks explode in the sky over Sevastopol following the announcement of the result of the referendum
5/14 Crimea Referendum
A member of a Ukrainian "Maidan" self-defense battalion takes part in training to qualify for service in the newly-created National Guard.
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Pro-Russian protesters hold a Russian, Crimean and Soviet flags during their rally at Lenin Square in Simferopol, Ukraine
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A member of the Crimean election commission waits for voters at the polling station in Belogorsk near Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
8/14 Crimea Referendum
Polling stations opened in Crimea for a referendum about whether the Ukrainian Black Sea region should join Russia. The vote has been widely condemned by Western governments, who call it illegal and have announced sanctions against Russia if it goes ahead. Thousands of unmarked forces, believed to be Russian, have appeared in Crimea after local Moscow-backed authorities asked Russia for protection against 'extremists' in the new Ukrainian leadership
9/14 Crimea Referendum
A lettering on the facade of the Council of Ministers building reads 'Spring in Crimea' in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
10/14 Crimea Referendum
People wave Crimean flags at Lenin square in Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine
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A poster in Crimea presents a stark choice - Nazism, or Russia - to voters ahead of the referendum
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Protesters against Ukraine’s referendum gather in Simferopol
13/14 Crimea Referendum
Action stations: Preparations for today’s referendum in Simferopol, where Crimea will vote to become part of Russia
14/14 Crimea Referendum
Cossacks guard the regional parliament building in Simferopol during the Crimean referendum
The treaty says Crimea is considered part of Russia from the day of its signing but that it enters into force when it is ratified. Russia also plans to adopt legislation making Crimea one of its constituent regions.
The treaty states that: "in the hearts and minds of people, Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia."
At the same time, pro-Russian authorities reported that a member of their own forces had also been killed in the incident.
On Tuesday, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov condemned Western sanctions over the Crimea dispute as "unacceptable" and threatened consequences during a phone call with the US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Russia accused Western states of violating a pledge to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and political independence under a 1994 security assurance agreement, saying they had "indulged a coup d'etat" that ousted President Viktor Yanukovich last month.
The Foreign Ministry said actions by the US and EU ran counter to assurances granted by the United States, Britain and Russia in exchange for Ukraine's commitment to give up its nuclear arsenal after the Soviet collapse.
Mr Putin said he did want to "carve up" Ukraine but warned the West it had "crossed a line" over Crimea.
The United States and the European Union on imposed sanctions on Russia earlier this week, targeting Russian and Crimean officials with visa bans and asset freezes.
Additional reporting by agencies