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  • Date Submitted: 03/03/2014 11:08 AM
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KIEV, Ukraine — The besieged new government of Ukraine accused Russian forces of a major escalation in pressure over control of the Crimea on Monday night, saying the Russians had demanded that Ukrainian forces there surrender within hours or face armed assault. Russia denied it had issued any ultimatum.

The Interfax-Ukrainian news agency quoted an unidentified Ukrainian Defense ministry official as saying Russia’s Black Sea Fleet commander had set a deadline of 5 a.m. Tuesday — 10 p.m. Monday Eastern time — for Ukrainian forces stationed in Crimea to lay down their weapons. But Russia’s Interfax news agency said the Black Sea Fleet had no such plans.
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The conflicting reports only further served to worsen tensions in the Ukraine crisis, which has grown drastically in scope within the past few weeks to a new confrontation between Russia and the West reminiscent of low points in the Cold War. It was clear that Russia was strengthening its hold on the Crimean peninsula as more pro-Russia demonstrations were gripping the big cities of Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.
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