Ukrainian soldiers serving in Crimea have been authorized to use their weapons to defend themselves, according to the acting Ukrainian president’s press service.

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The order comes only hours after a Ukrainian serviceman was shot and killed on Tuesday at a Ukrainian base that came under attack in Crimea’s main town of Simferopol and acting Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said the Crimean conflict has now entered a “military phase.”

Until now, forces deployed on the Black Sea peninsula, taken over three weeks ago by Russian forces, had been told to avoid using arms against attack.

A defense ministry order issued after the incident said: “In connection with the death of a Ukrainian serviceman…Ukrainian troops in Crimea have been allowed to use weapons to defend and protect the lives of Ukrainian servicemen.”

Vladislav Seleznyov, said it was unclear who had staged the assault, but described the attackers, as “unknown forces, fully equipped and their faces covered”.

Yatseniuk also accused Russia of committing a “war crime” by firing on Ukrainian servicemen.

The US is considering sending ground troops to the Baltic states on new military exercises …

“We are exploring a number of additional steps to increase the pace and scope of our military co-operation, including rotating US forces to the Baltic region to conduct ground and naval exercises – as well as training missions,” said Biden.

President Ilves [of Estonia] called on Nato to put “the east-west relationship on a new standing” after events in the Ukraine.

“We in Nato must draw our conclusions from Russia’s behaviour in the current crisis and conduct a review of the entire range of Nato-Russia relations. My hope is that at the upcoming [Nato] summit in Wales we will refocus on common defence: the raison d’etre of the alliance.”

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchynov, also made comments today, in line with those of interim prime minister Yatsenyuk’s. Turchynov said that the attempt to annex Crimea is “a very dangerous step … not only against Ukraine, but also against Europe and the whole world”. He went on to directly accuse Putin of manufacturing the crisis and violating international law.

We would like to warn President Putin – who is personally responsible for this act of provocation – the political leadership of the Russian Federation will from now on have to answer to the entire world for the crimes which they are committing today on the territory of our country.

Nazi Germany started the second world war by annexing parts of other countries. President Putin, who keeps talking about fascism, is imitating last century’s fascists today by annexing part of an independent state, recognised as such by the whole world.

Source | TheGuardian