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Russian troops storm Belbek airbase

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Russian troops in Crimea stormed Ukrainian held Belbek airbase March 22, using an infantry fighting vehicle to batter down the gate at the main entrance as well as others to breach the perimeter of the base at other points.

Reports followed detailing gunfire and explosions and one injured Ukrainian was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

Following the storming of the base, the Ukrainian commander was taken to an undisclosed location after meeting with his men and announcing they would be handing over their arms and vacating the base.

Despite the act of defiance, attempting to fight on would be certain suicide for the Ukrainians who are completely cut off and surrounded with no hope of reinforcement or relief from outside Crimea.

Since the Russian annexation on March 18, Russian military forces have been seizing Ukrainian held military bases and assets including naval vessels blocked in port at Sevastopol which had been a join Russian-Ukrainian operated naval base.

All of the hardware including the naval vessels are of Soviet/Russian design and in the case of the naval vessels were divided proportionally between the two nations following Ukrainian independence after the fall of the Soviet Union.

As is the case with Ukrainians holding bases in Crimea, Ukrainian Navy ships are cut off and blocked in the harbor by Russian naval vessels and a derelict cruiser scuttled by the Russians in the shipping channel to block any attempts to slip out at night.

As these ‘mop-up’ operations continue in Crimea, ethnic Russians in Donetsk and Kherson Ukraine have organized protests for demanding a referendum on secession and joining Russia in precisely the same fashion as the events that transpired in Crimea.

Kherson is the Ukrainian Oblast immediately north of Crimea containing the narrow land link connecting the two. Were Moscow able to peel off Kherson without a fight, it would allow Russian forces staged in Crimea to move into mainland Ukraine and occupy the east bank of the Dnieper River in Kherson.

That position is a vital point from which to launch an attack in the direction of the Russian enclave of Transnistria on the western border of Ukraine. Though legally Moldovan territory, Transnistria is a breakaway republic similar to Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the nation of Georgia.

Transnistria also happens to contain enormous stockpiles of leftover Soviet ammunition and explosives that Putin and his field commanders would no doubt like to ensure Ukrainian forces do not come into possession of.

One nightmare scenario for Moscow would be those stockpiles being seized and moved to the Pripyat Marsh area of Ukraine.

Pripyat is a region along the border areas of Ukraine and Belarus where Ukrainian partisans hid out and launched attacks against occupying German forces during World War II.

German forces were never able to clear Ukrainian partisans from those areas and after Stalin betrayed them following the German retreat from Ukraine, it took Soviet forces several years after VE Day to finally eliminate them.

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