The moves heightened tension on the eve of a Crimean referendum, which Ukraine and the West consider illegal. Russian troops unexpectedly invaded the Crimean peninsula on Feb. 27 and in the following days Russian President Vladimir Putin said that he might order the use of military forces in Ukraine.
Four helicopters landed near Strilkove village on the north of Arabat Spit, narrow piece of land on the south of Kherson region, bringing 60 commandos, the State Border Service reported. “The border guards together with soldiers (about 20 people) had to move back from the crossroad leading to Henichesk (city nearby) and had to take up defense,” it said in the report.
At about 3:30 p.m., six more helicopters landed there, bringing 60 more commandos. Several military vehicles were riding along the Arabat Spit at the same time.