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Monday, March 3, 2014

March 3 Updates on Ukraine Crisis

The Lede is following events in Ukraine and Russia on Monday, as military standoffs around Ukrainian bases continued in Russian-controlled Crimea after Russia dispatched more forces and tightened its grip on the peninsula. Updates below mix breaking news with dispatches from Times correspondents and firsthand accounts of events on the ground posted on social networks by bloggers and journalists in Crimea and other parts of Ukraine.

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7:35 A.M. Masked Men at Ukraine’s Navy Headquarters

At the headquarters of Ukraine’s naval forces just outside of Sevastopol, six heavily armed men in unmarked uniforms and masks stood outside, cheered on by about 100 locals waving Russian flags and loudly proclaiming their loyalties. The armed men seemed torn. They turned away from cameras, or lowered their gaze.

Inside, Rear Admiral Sergei A. Gaiduk said he was acting commander of the Ukrainian navy and declared loyalty to Oleksandr V. Turchynov, the acting president. It was not clear what had happened to his predecessor, Rear Adm. Denis Berezovsky.

As a summerlike sun warmed the blue and white buildings, Capt. A. Ryzhenko, 45, who said he had worked closely with the Russians on several projects involving all Black Sea nations, was clearly dazed by the rapid divisions that now pitted brother Slavs against one another.

“We are a little bit shocked,” he said. “We worked together in adjacent rooms; we studied together.”

How long the Ukrainians inside could withstand what was effectively a blockade was unclear. One young mother, who refused to talk to reporters, was seen holding a baby at the fence for her husband to kiss. She said she had also brought him food, “because they don’t feed them.”

She was loudly supported by two female pensioners waving Russian flags. “It’s the Olympic flag, the flag of friendship,” said Nina Butkeyeva, 60, injecting a surreal reminder that barely more than a week ago Russia was still hosting the world in Sochi for the Winter Games.

â€" Alison Smale

7:27 A.M. Hague: ‘Biggest Crisis’ in Europe in 21st Century

As Steven Erlanger reports from Kiev, British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday, speaking to the BBC while he was visiting the new government in Kiev, called Ukraine “the biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century.”

Mr. Hague urged Russia to pull back its forces in Crimea or face “significant costs,” echoing comments made by President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who is due in Kiev on Tuesday.