More worrisome news from Ukraine today: The New York Times is reporting that armed men "of uncertain allegiance" are at the Sevastopol and Simferopol Airports in the Crimean region, fueling concerns about possible Russian military intervention or a separatist rebellion in a region with stronger historical ties to Russia than to Ukraine’s central government in Kiev.
The story noted that there were no confrontations or bloodshed by midafternoon on Friday (local time), but added that the appearance of a large number of masked men with assault rifles unnerved residents and travelers, who were "buffeted" by warnings from Kiev of military meddling by Moscow and statements from the deposed Ukrainian president, Viktor Yanukovych, that the country had been taken over by fascists and “bandits.”
The BBC noted some other recent developments in the region:
- Eight trucks with the black plates of the Russian army were spotted moving towards Simferopol
- Unconfirmed reports say eight Russian military helicopters have arrived in Sevastopol
- Ukraine's central bank has put a 15,000 hryvnia (€1,000; $1,500) limit on daily cash withdrawals
- Ukraine's parliament calls on the UN Security Council to discuss the unfolding crisis in Crimea
As noted earlier this week, the U.S. State Department has issued a travel warning for Ukraine, adding that U.S. citizens already in Ukraine should evaluate their personal security situation in light of political instability and the possibility of violence, particularly in Kiev and areas of eastern and southern Ukraine, the Department said.