Alissa de Carbonnel and Alessandra Prentice report, Ukraine Airports Seized By Armed Men, said to be Russian troops, by representatives of the government of Ukraine, in a significant "escalation of tensions" between Ukraine and Russia. Armed men have taken over two airports in tthe Crimea region, but their identity remains uncertain. Russia has denied they are official Russian troops from the Black Sea fleet.
Russia's Black Sea fleet, which is based in the region, denied its forces were involved in seizing one of the airports, Interfax news agency reported, while a supporter described the group at the other site merely as Crimean militiamen.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov accused Russian naval forces of taking over a military airport near the port of Sevastopol, where the Black Sea fleet has its base, and other Russian forces of seizing Simferopol's civilian international airport.
"I consider what has happened to be an armed invasion and occupation in violation of all international agreements and norms," Avakov said on his Facebook page, describing it as a "provocation" and calling for talks.
Interfax quoted an unnamed "spokesman' for Russia who said, "no Black Sea Fleet units have moved toward (the airport), let alone taking any part in blockading it."
It should be noted that Russia has many other military units other than those in Black Sea Fleet.
Reporters can see troops in unmarked vehicles in the airport, but have not been allowed close enough to talk to anyone.
A volunteer formerly at the post, Maxim Lovinetsky, said "Of course they are Russian. They came last night."
5:49 AM PT: CNN reports Ukraine tells Russia to back off as Crimea tensions, secession fears deepen, and that "ousted" Ukrianian President Viktor Yanukovuych is in Russia.
(CNN) -- Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovuych said Friday at a news conference in Russia that he was not overthrown but was forced to flee under threat to his life.
"I intend to continue the fight for the future of Ukraine against those who, with fear and with terror, are attempting to replace the power. Nobody has overthrown me. I was compelled to leave Ukraine due to a direct threat to my life and my nearest and dearest," he said, speaking Russian -- not Ukrainian.
Men in military uniforms patrolled the main airport in Ukraine's Russian-majority Crimean region Friday, a move that Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called part of an "armed invasion" by Russian forces.
Airport operations have not been affected. Maybe the "Russian" troops are just "visiting?" Elsewhere in the article on report makes it appear that these troops may be pro-Russian Ukrainians in unmarked uniforms.
"I intend to continue the fight for the future of Ukraine against those who, with fear and with terror, are attempting to replace the power. Nobody has overthrown me. I was compelled to leave Ukraine due to a direct threat to my life and my nearest and dearest," he said, speaking Russian, not Ukrainian.
Yanukovych, making his first public appearance since his ouster, said the newly appointed interim government was not legitimate and did not represent the majority of Ukraine's 45 million citizens.
And he accused the interim authorities in Ukraine of propagating violence.
"I want to apologize in front of everybody -- to the veterans, to the Ukrainian people -- that I did not have the strength to stop what is now taking place in the country from taking place," he said.
I'm wondering if he will soon ask Vladimir Putin for help "restoring order?"
14.17 To highlight the main points in the conference so far:
* Yanukovych insists 'not overthrown', will fight on
* He says he did not instruct Ukranian forces to shoot on protesters in Independence Square
* He has not yet met with Russian President Putin
* He says May presidential poll in Ukraine illegal and he won't take part
* Standoff in Crimea was a "natural reaction" to the "bandit-like" takeover of power by the new authorities
* He denies having any foreign bank accounts