US imposes new sanctions on Russia
In response to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, US President Barack Obama announces further sanctions.PT1M58S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-356iu 620 349 March 21, 2014
Sevastopol: Russian troops and pro-Moscow militiamen took over three Ukrainian warships in Crimea on Thursday, a Ukrainian navy official said, after Moscow's military seizure of the Black Sea peninsula and annexation of the territory.
Vladislav Seleznyov, a Ukrainian military spokesman in Crimea, said the Russian forces used stun grenades as they stormed the corvette Ternopol in the port city of Sevastopol.
Men hang up a Russian flag on a seized Ukrainian corvette Khmelnitsky in Sevastopol, Crimea. Photo: AP
"The ship has been taken," Mr Seleznyov said on his Facebook page on Thursday, after earlier saying: "The assault has begun".
On Facebook, Mr Seleznyov said pro-Moscow militiamen and Russian soldiers cordoned off the area, while a boat with the gunmen on board approached the Ternopil and stormed it.
"Stun grenades were used during the assault and automatic fire was heard," he said.
Crew members of the Ukrainian corvette Khmelnitsky leave their ship which has been seized by Russian troops and pro-Russian forces in Sevastopol, Crimea. Photo: AP
The Russian national tricolour and the Russian navy's flag were flying on a pier elsewhere in Sevastopol where two more Ukrainian navy corvettes were anchored, indicating they were seized.
There were no flags on display on the sterns of the corvettes - called the Lutsk and Khmelnitsky - where the national symbols would normally be visible.
"It appears the Russians have taken the flags down at both ships but not put out their own," Mr Seleznyov said.
More than 14,500 people serve in the Ukrainian navy, accodring to the country's Defence Ministry website, with most of them stationed in Crimea.
The commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, Alexander Vitko, had reportedly boarded the Slavutich earlier on Thursday in an attempt to negotiate a surrender.
The two warships had been blockaded in the port by the Russian navy and had distanced themselves from the dock in an attempt to prevent an assault.