UK & World News
Chaos As Russians Smash Their Way Into Air Base
For days the Ukrainian commander, holed up with 500 men in a small corner of the vast Belbek air base in southern Crimea, had predicted that the Russians were coming.
He was right.
On a ridge line above their compound we could see Russian snipers and spotters, Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs) and infantry gathering.
A one-hour deadline to leave passed and the Ukrainian soldiers prepared themselves for an assault - not from the Russians but from the pro-Russia militia who have forced their way into camps across the peninsula for the last week.
About 50 massed outside the camp entrance but abruptly disappeared as we heard the roar of APC engines along a narrow road adjacent to the perimeter wall.
Then the first of two armoured vehicles smashed through the wall with a huge crash, quickly followed by Russian special forces firing into the air and lobbing blast bombs into the ranks of Ukrainian soldiers.
In the pandemonium of this assault at least one Ukrainian soldier was injured and a camera crew smashed to the ground by the Russians shouting instructions, pointing their machine guns and firing warning shots.
Within minutes the Ukrainians were surrounded and told to hand over their weapons and discard wooden sticks and metal bars they had gathered to protect themselves from the militia.
A third APC drove into the main gate of the camp to huge applause from locals who had gathered outside the base.
A massive cheer rang out as a man shimmied up a telegraph pole and disconnected a live streaming camera that had captured the first moments of the assault from outside.
Inside, more Russian regular army units flooded into the camp from three further breaches of the compound perimeter. The takeover was complete.
This is the first time that the Russian military has directly engaged with Ukrainian forces since the annexation of the peninsula began.
After a truce between the two sides ended on Friday it seems that the Russians decided that with the political takeover signed off by President Putin it was time to end Ukraine's military presence here.
It is all but over - now only one or two outposts remain in Ukrainian military hands and those will fall imminently.
The world watches with despair and condemns with regularity but it is a done deal and in truth nobody could or can do anything about it.