2014 Simferopol incident
|2014 Simferopol incident|
|Part of the Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the Ukraine Crisis|
Russian special forces (claimed by Ukraine, Independently verified)|
Crimean Republic Self-Defense Forces
|Right Sector snipers (claimed by Russia, denied by Right Sector)|
|Commanders and leaders|
Colonel Andriy Andryushyn |
(defected to Crimean Republic)
Serhiy Kokurin †
|20, including civilians||15+||several|
|Casualties and losses|
|1 serviceman killed, 2 wounded, and 18 captured (later released)||1 killed, 3 wounded||1 captured (Russian claim)|
|Notes: Cause of deaths disputed|
On March 18, 2014, a Ukrainian soldier and a Crimean self-defense trooper were killed in the first case of bloodshed during the Russian military intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. During the attack, there supposedly was a militant from the Right Sector, however the Right Sector has officially stated (On 27 February 2014) that it does not have any intentions to go to Crimea.
None of the accounts of this event could be verified independently. The Ukrainian and the Crimean authorities provided conflicting reports of the event. The two casualties had a joint funeral attended by both Crimean and Ukrainian authorities. The event continues to be under investigation by both the Crimean authorities and the Ukrainian military.
Storming of Ukrainian Military Facility
On March 18, 2014, at 3 p.m, 15 masked gunmen attired in Russian uniforms without insignia, stormed the 13th Photogrammatic Center of the Central Military-Topographic and Navigation Administration in Simferopol, Crimea. The base was administered by Ukrainian soldiers and had been completely surrounded by pro-Russian and Crimean Self-Defense troops since 13 March. Pro-Russian forces demanded that the garrison surrender the base or otherwise they will take the center with force.
Although it is unclear how the incident initially began, reports emerged of a pro-Russian self-defense member attempting to scale a wall into the base compound, and being told to get back by Ukrainian guards. The argument escalated into live gunfire being exchanged by both sides and the storming of the base itself. However, civilian testimonies indicated seeing self-defense troops and militiamen preparing for a possible storming of the base prior any confrontation.
Soldier Serhiy Kokurin, a Ukrainian junior officer manning a watchtower overseeing a vehicle pool at the base, was fatally injured in the neck during the shoot-out. A second Ukrainian serviceman was shot in the neck and evacuated by several ambulances. The ambulances were granted entrance to the scene by self-defense troops, who sealed off the base to journalists. This death marked the first military fatality in the Russian takeover of Crimea. In addition to the officer, an ethnic Russian volunteer was reported killed per Crimean authorities, though it was unclear if he was killed by resisting Ukrainian troops or by accidental friendly fire (both were reported).
The storming followed with the takeover of the park located within the base's compound and the Ukrainian command center. According to civilians and journalists at the scene, a total of 15 unmarked soldiers, armed with shotguns and AK-47s, participated in the assault, supported by two military vehicles bearing the Russian flag. A Ukrainian soldier on patrol at the park was beaten by self-defense soldiers with a pair of iron rods during the capture. The soldier's condition was reported as serious, according to military accounts.
Shooting continued until the Ukrainian commander, Colonel Andriy Andryushyn, was captured. He was taken hostage, along with several other soldiers, in order to gain entry into the base's nautical building, where the remaining Ukrainian personnel had barricaded themselves on the second floor, refusing to surrender. The Ukrainian commander was interrogated by Russian troops, and allegedly declared his defection to the "People of Crimea" afterwards.
Negotiations over the surrender of the nautical building, and the Ukrainian troops inside, continued until late Tuesday evening, when talks were met over their surrender. A total of 18 remaining Ukrainian soldiers were detained and placed under arrest by gunmen. The soldiers were placed in rows and had all identification marks, weapons, and money confiscated at the behest of Crimean police. By 24 March, the remaining Ukrainian troops who had been captured during the altercation were freed, unharmed.
Ukrainian interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of a war crime over the incident. "Today, Russian soldiers began shooting at Ukrainian servicemen and this is a war crime without any expiry under a statute of limitations.” Acting Ukrainian president Oleksandr Turchynov suggested that the Russian annexation of Crimea was moving from a political phase to a military phase, following the announcement of the death of a servicemen. He issued orders on the night of 18 March, allowing Ukrainian soldiers to use their weapons to defend themselves. The Ukrainian government released a statement declaring that the steps Russia was reminiscent to those taken by Nazi Germany and its annexations of territories before the start of World War 2.
The Treaty on Accession of the Republic of Crimea to Russia was signed on the same day by Vladimir Putin and the self-declared Crimean republic, formally joining the independent Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation as two federal subjects - the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol.
British prime minister David Cameron said: "The steps taken by President Putin today to attempt to annexe Crimea to Russia are in flagrant breach of international law and send a chilling message across the continent of Europe. Russia will face more serious consequences and I will push European leaders to agree further EU measures."
Alleged Right Sector Sniper
Russian media, citing Crimean police, reported that authorities had detained a 17-year-old nationalist Right Sector marksman from Western Ukraine in connection to the killings. Later, however, Crimean prosecutors denied detaining any gunmen, according to Interfax. "The information on the shooter's detention has not been confirmed. It is untrue. Unfortunately, no one has been detained yet," Natalia Boyarkina, press officer for the Crimean prosecutors, told Interfax-Ukraine on March 20.
Investigation by Crimean Prosecutor General
The Crimean Prosecutor General Natalia Poklonskaya investigated the incident.
Initial Statement of Crimean Prosecutor General
The day after the incident, Poklonskaya reported that pre-trial investigation services had determined the following:
Several unarmed officials of the Russian Defense Ministry came to the Ukrainian military base to discuss cartography issues. This meeting had been agreed upon by both the base's Commander and Kiev. While they were inside the base, Crimean self-defence forces were shot outside the base.
A series of shots were fired both at Ukrainian soldiers and members of Crimean self-defence forces. There were victims on both sides: a Cossack self-defense soldier was killed, and another was injured. One Ukrainian soldier from the military base was killed and another was injured.
At the time of Poklonskaya's initial statement, the exact position and number of shooters were unknown.
The scene was examined by six investigation groups, including criminologists, detectives from the Crimean Republic attorney office, detectives from the main department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and members of related departments. Poklonskaya stated that according to these experts, the incident was very similar to the snipers' attacks on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev's central square, from February 18 to 21, 2014. Their goal was allegedly to provoke conflict between soldiers of the Ukraine and the Crimean Republic.
- Ensign (Praporshchik) Serhiy Kokurin – fatality (shot in the heart while on patrol)
- Captain V. Fedun – wounded in the neck and arm
- Unidentified Ukrainian soldier – seriously injured in the head after blows from an iron bar
Crimean Self-Defense Forces
- Ruslan Kazakov (Russian volunteer, veteran of the Chechen wars, Don Cossack militia member from Volgograd) – fatality.
- Alexander Yukalo (rank unknown) - shot in the thigh.
- Several other unidentified members wounded
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- Стало відоме прізвище застреленого в Криму українського прапорщика [It became known the last name of a shot Ukrainian ensign in Crimea] (in Ukrainian). UNIAN. March 18, 2014. Archived from the original on March 19, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
- Окупанти у Сімферополі вбили українського солдата [The invaders killed a Ukrainian soldier in Simferopol]. Gazeta.lviv.ua. March 18, 2014. Archived from the original on March 18, 2014. Retrieved March 26, 2014.
- The Right Sector will not participated to bring to order the situation in Crimea. Mirror Weekly. 27 February 2014
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- "Joint Funeral" 'Ukraine's unlikeliest funeral: the only two foes to die in Russia's Crimea takeover are mourned together', Daily Telegraph, March 22, 2014
- "Joint Funeral2" 'Opposing sides in Crimean conflict come together today for Simferopol funeral of two men killed, one Ukrainian, the other Russian', Kyiv Post, March 22, 2014
- "Joint Funeral3" 'Funeral held for Crimea's first casualties', Agence France-Presse, March 22, 2014
- В Симферополе российские военнослужащие штурмуют фотограмметрический центр ВС Украины, ранен в шею украинец [In Simferopol, Russian troops stormed the photogrammetric center of Ukrainian Armed Forces, a Ukrainian wounded in the neck] (in Russian). Interfax-Ukraine. March 18, 2014. Archived from the original on March 19, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
- March 19, 2014. Ukraine cries 'robbery' as Russia annexes Crimea. CNN. (Retrieved March 19, 2014).
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- "Ukrainian serviceman killed hours after Putin signs Crimea annexation legislation". ABC News. Retrieved 2016-02-12.
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- Treaty on Accession of the Republic of Crimea to Russia Agreement on the accession of the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation signed kremlin.ru, accessed 23 January 2016
- "Crimean prosecutors do not confirm info on Simferopol shooter detention". Interfax-Ukraine. March 20, 2014. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2014.