RUSSIA has rejected reports that it threatened Ukraine with military assault if it does not surrender the Crimea by 3am on Tuesday as "total nonsense".
Relations between East and West have plummeted as the Russian Government continued to ignore calls from Western leaders to leave the Ukrainian area.
This morning, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, justified the military incursion claiming it was necessary in order to protect his country's citizens living there. "This is a question of defending our citizens and compatriots, ensuring human rights, especially the right to life," he said.
It followed claims from the Ukrainian Defence Ministry that Russian fighter jets had "violated" the country's airspace over the Black Sea overnight and that Russian forces were now in control of the port city of Sevastopol, where the Black Sea fleet is based.
The takeover of the ferry terminal on the eastern tip of Crimea by Russian troops has exacerbated fears that Moscow is planning to bring even more troops into the strategic Black Sea region. There was no immediate comment from the Russian Defence Ministry.
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