Ukraine crisis: Crimeans react to Russian military build-up

Armed servicemen guard a roadblock at Belbeck Airport near Sevastapol

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Russia's parliament has approved the deployment of troops in Ukraine, prompting the Kiev government to put its army on full alert as international leaders express alarm.

BBC News website readers in Crimea have been sharing their views of the escalating crisis.

'I fear this could turn into another Abkhazia'

Oleg Vorobiov, a native Russian and resident of Simferopol, Crimea for the past 20 years
Oleg Vorobiov Oleg Vorobiov says the crisis makes him feel nervous

The Russian vote to allow troops to enter Ukraine resembles aggression. People in Crimea don't like seeing soldiers on their land. It looks and feels very much like intervention.

The situation has been largely quiet today out on the streets from what I have seen.

I live in the centre of Simferopol and it is very quiet here now. After the announcement about the Russian vote was made, the military forces seemed to disappear. I don't know where they have gone but I can't see them anymore.

The latest development here is lots of small groups of unarmed volunteers patrolling key buildings in the centre to make sure order is observed in the city. These are local Ukrainians who do not want to see their city damaged.

Everybody is aware the situation is particularly volatile and no-one wants to carry a weapon in case it encourages violence to break out.

I only saw a few road police when I was out but not many regular police. I don't know why they are not more prominent. Perhaps they don't want to provoke the situation?

Start Quote

I oppose Crimea being part of Ukraine”

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I was interpreting for Swedish journalists at the airports yesterday that were taken over by military forces. I saw for myself the military presence there. They were calling themselves the Ukrainian self-defence forces but they were not just volunteers. They were very professional and very heavily armed.

I am Russian and I fear this could turn into another Abkhazia scenario. I oppose Crimea being part of Ukraine.

I don't trust any Ukrainian politicians or parties. I don't want Russia to intervene either, I want Crimea to be independent.

'We are concerned about Russia's involvement'

Yuri Chernyy, 39, is a businessman who lives in Simferopol

Obviously it is getting quite tense here. We have heard about Russia's plans. It would appear Russia is calling the bluff of the US, EU and Nato. People are already making comparisons to Georgia and the former Yugoslavia.

We don't know how Ukraine will react or how the Tatars will react. We try to steer clear of the protesters and if we see large crowds gathering we avoid going there.

There is an online petition going round opposing Russian intervention because people do not want Putin to come in.

We are very concerned about Russia's involvement and we are somewhat doubtful that the EU, US or Nato will live up to their guarantees for protecting Ukraine's territorial integrity.

For the moment we just have to wait and see what happens.

'We are ready for everything'

Alex Mikhnev, a Ukrainian IT worker in Sevastopol
Alex Mikhnev Russia is not meddling, it is protecting Europe from fascism, says Alex

For me, this is not a case of Russian intervention or meddling. As you know, Russia 60 years ago protected Europe from fascism. So now Russia will do this again.

I have a Ukrainian passport but my father is Russian and my mother is Ukrainian, so I am both. Sevastopol is part of Ukraine in my opinion. We should obey the laws of Ukraine but Sevastopol is its own place.

I don't think people will be afraid. The majority of the population feels Russian and we are used to seeing the Russian fleet in the harbour. I know Russian troops coming on the land is different but I don't think people will be alarmed.

I was at a meeting in the main square where we were told some information about this situation, I would say there were 10,000 people there.

The leader of the Russian motorcycle club Night Wolves said that unlike in Kiev people from Sevastopol aren't hiding their faces behind masks, they aren't walking the streets with sticks or clubs or arms and no-one is throwing Molotov cocktails.

The meeting was told that a National Guard has been created to protect the people of Sevastopol and there has been a drop in crime levels in the city in the last month.

The meeting was told that elections will not be on 25 May as in the rest of Ukraine but on 30 March, when people in Crimea will have a referendum to decide how we want to live and organise our lives.

The vice-president of Sevastopol FC said his nationality was Russian, but he is a citizen of Ukraine and that he is against the demolition of any monuments.

The situation in Sevastopol is safe. We are not worried about anything. There was a wedding taking place as normal just a few days ago.

'The Russian and Ukrainian military make me feel protected'

Army trucks photographed from Veronika Akcsiodina's university window in Sevastopol The view from Veronika Akcsiodina's window in the university accommodation in Sevastopol
Veronika Akcsiodina, a journalism student from Sevastopol
Veronika Akcsiodina Student Veronika Akcsiodina says she doesn't believe there will be a war

I have been living here for two and a half years. I'm Russian but my mother is Ukrainian.

Life is normal. I'm going to university as normal, people are going to work as normal. We are not panicking.

The only thing that is different is the big meetings in the central square for people who don't like the situation in Kiev. The other difference is there are military units here.

From my window I can see a Russian unit and, on the other side of the road, a Ukrainian unit. They are quite close together, not in conflict. They make me feel protected rather than threatened.

It is very difficult to say what will happen next. I don't believe there will be a war because people don't want war. They want to live happily.

Crimea will stay a legal part of Ukraine, despite the number of Russians here. No-one can say it is not part of Ukraine.

Interviews by Sitala Peek

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