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Armed men seize two airports in Ukraine’s Crimea, Russia denies involvement

Armed men took control of two airports in the Crimea region on Friday in what Ukraine’s government described as an invasion and occupation by Russian forces, stoking tension between Moscow and the West, Reuters reports.

But 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 man who said he was helping the armed group at the other site described them as simple people from the “People’s Militia of Crimea”.

Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said Russian naval forces had taken over the military airport near the port of Sevastopol, where the Russian navy has its base, and other Russian forces had taken over Simferopol international airport.

This met with a Russian denial of involvement in the military airport action. “No Black Sea Fleet units have moved toward (the airport), let alone taking any part in blockading it,” Interfax quoted a spokesman for the fleet as saying.

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