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Russia brings trucks, armour into Crimea

Photo archive: Russian military armoured personnel carriers (APC) drive on the road from Sevastopol to Simferopol earlier this month

By Andrew Osborn

A Russian warship unloaded trucks, troops and at least one armoured personnel carrier at a bay near Sevastopol in Crimea on Friday morning, as Moscow continued to build up its forces on the Ukrainian peninsula.

A Reuters journalist saw trucks driving off the Yamal 156, a large landing ship, at Kazachaya Bay near Sevastopol. One flatbed truck was carrying an armoured personnel carrier.

On Monday, a Reuters journalist saw a column of at least 100 Russian vehicles, including trucks, armoured personnel carriers and mobile artillery on a road in the same area. It is Ukrainian territory, some 15 km (10 miles) from the port at Sevastopol which Moscow leases from Kiev to station its Black Sea Fleet.

Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities have denied there are any Russian troops on the peninsula outside the Sevastopol base, even though masked gunmen surrounding Ukrainian military installations drive vehicles with Russian licence plates and identify themselves to Ukrainian soldiers as Russian troops.

Crimeans will vote on Sunday whether to become part of Russia or to choose greater autonomy within Ukraine, a step that pro-Russian officials have said would be a stepping stone to joining Russia.

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