As tensions continue to rise between Russia and the West, the first casualty of the simmering conflict has been recorded. According to a March 18 story by USA Today, a Ukrainian soldier was killed after armed gunmen attacked the beleaguered base, just outside Crimea’s capital.
Witnesses reported that armed gunmen exited from two unmarked vehicles and proceeded to assault the base. During the altercation, a Ukrainian junior officer that was manning a tower was shot and killed. The gunmen also killed a member of the Crimean self-defense force and detained Russian soldiers.
However, the official report that was issued from a Russian leaning news outlet stated that the event was organized in response to a report of armed men at the facility. Regardless of the true motive behind the attack, it has signal a potentially dangerous new phase in the conflict.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk issued a strong statement calling the action a war crime under international law.
The conflict is moving from a political one to a military one because of Russian soldiers...Today, Russian soldiers began shooting at Ukrainian servicemen and this is a war crime without any expiry under a statute of limitations." -Arseniy Yatsenyuk
In response to the attack, acting Ukrainian President, Alexsandr Turchinov formally authorized troops in Crimea to use of firearms for the beleaguered troops. This was done to ensure the troops could “defend their lives”.