Russian Troops Seize Last Ukrainian Airbase in Crimea

Last Naval Base Surrenders to Pro-Russia Protesters

Despite orders to withdraw from the peninsula yesterday, two Ukrainian military bases remained holdouts into the weekend in Crimea, the Belbek Airbase at Sevastopol and the naval base at Novofederovka. It didn’t last.

The Novofederovka naval base was surrendered early Saturday to a group of pro-Russian protesters, and more ships were seized by the Russian military along the coast, effectively ending Ukraine’s naval presence in Crimea. The Zaporizhya, Ukraine’s 45-year-old submarine, was also captured.

Belbek was something of a different case, with its commanders claiming they never got the orders from Ukraine to withdraw, and complaining no one wanted to take the blame. They vowed yesterday to just wait for Russia to take them over so they could leave.

Which happened, albeit in a somewhat more violent clash than one would’ve expected, as Russian troops used concussive grenades during the siege of the facility, which they quickly occupied. No deaths were reported, but several injuries.

Ukraine’s interim government insisted they don’t recognize the takeover of the bases as legitimate,  nor the Russian annexation of Crimea in general. In practice, there seems to be nothing they can do about it.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.