Ukraine, Russia agree brief Crimea truce: Kiev
KIEV - Agence France-Presse
Riot police stand guard in front of a regional government building during a pro-Russian rally in Kharkiv March 16, 2014. REUTERS PhotoUkraine's defence minister said Sunday his forces in Crimea had reached a temporary truce with Russia aimed at easing tensions surrounding the Black Sea peninsula's high-stakes secession referendum.
Russian troops seized the Ukrainian region at the start of the month with the help of pro-Kremlin militias in response of last month's fall in Kiev of a Moscow-backed regime.
The Russian forces have encircled Ukraine's military bases in Crimea and kept its naval ships from going out to sea.
But Defence Minister Igor Tenyukh told a government meeting in Kiev that a temporary agreement had been reached that would help the encircled Ukrainian soldiers replenish their supplies.
"Agreements have already been reached between our commanders... on there being no attempts to blockade our military installations until March 21," Interfax news agency quoted Tenyukh as saying.
"We have reached this truce, and I think it will remain in place until March 21." Tenyukh said that Ukraine's troops in Crimea remained on full combat alert but that the situation on the ground was calm.
"For now, the situation concerning our military installations... has normalised," the defence minister said.
Ukrainian officials on Friday accused Russian forces of moving outside Crimea for the first time by seizing a town on a spit off the northeast coast of the peninsula called Strilkove.
Tenyukh did not mention the episode in his reported remarks.