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Obama warns Russia over military moves in Crimea

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Unidentified gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms guard the entrance to the military airport at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Russian troops took control of the two main airports in the strategic peninsula of Crimea, Ukraine’s interior minister charged Friday, as the country asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian state media said Russian forces in Crimea denied involvement. No violence was reported at the civilian airport in Crimea’s capital of Simferopol or at the military airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, also part of Crimea. At the Simferopol airport, a man claiming to speak for the camouflage-clad forces patrolling the airport described them as Crimean militiamen. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Unidentified gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms guard the entrance to the military airport at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Russian troops took control of the two main airports in the strategic peninsula of Crimea, Ukraine’s interior minister charged Friday, as the country asked the U.N. Security Council to intervene in the escalating conflict. Russian state media said Russian forces in Crimea denied involvement. No violence was reported at the civilian airport in Crimea’s capital of Simferopol or at the military airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, also part of Crimea. At the Simferopol airport, a man claiming to speak for the camouflage-clad forces patrolling the airport described them as Crimean militiamen. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Ukraine’s fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych gives a news conference in Rostov-on-Don, a city in southern Russia about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) from Moscow, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Making his first public appearance since fleeing Ukraine, fugitive Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych pledged Friday to fight for his country’s future but said he will not ask for military assistance. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

Unidentified gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms block the road toward the military airport at the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Heightened security is evident with Russian military around Sevastopol, the location for Russia military bases, military airport and Naval Base, while unidentified armed men wearing uniforms without insignia were patrolling another airport serving the regional capital, Ukraine’s new Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Friday. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Unidentified armed man patrols a square in front of the airport in Simferopol, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Dozens of armed men in military uniforms without markings patroled the airport in the capital of Ukraine’s strategic Crimea region on Friday as tensions in the country’s Russian-speaking southeast escalated. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

An unidentified armed man patrols a square in front of the airport in Simferopol, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 28, 2014. Russian military were blocking the airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea near the Russian naval base while unidentified men were patrolling another airport serving the regional capital, Ukraine’s new Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said on Friday. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

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SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Armed men described as Russian troops took control of key airports in Crimea on Friday and Russian transport planes flew into the strategic region, Ukrainian officials said, an ominous sign of the Kremlin’s iron hand in Ukraine. President Barack Obama bluntly warned Moscow “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily.

The sudden arrival of men in military uniforms patrolling key strategic facilities prompted Ukraine to accuse Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” — a claim that brought an alarming new dimension to the crisis.

In a hastily arranged statement delivered from the White House, Obama called on Russia to respect the independence and territory of Ukraine and not try to take advantage of its neighbor, which is undergoing political upheaval.

“Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,” Obama said.

Such action by Russia would not serve the interests of the Ukrainian people, Russia or Europe, Obama said, and would represent a “profound interference” in matters he said must be decided by the Ukrainian people.

“Just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, that would invite the condemnation of nations around the world,” Obama said. “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

He did not say what those costs might be.

Earlier Friday, Ukraine’s fugitive president resurfaced in Russia to deliver a defiant condemnation of what he called a “bandit coup.”

Appearing for the first time since fleeing Ukraine last week, Viktor Yanukovych struck a tone both of bluster and caution — vowing to “keep fighting for the future of Ukraine,” while ruling out seeking Russian military help.

“Any military action in this situation is unacceptable,” Yanukovych told reporters in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, near the border with Ukraine. Then, seeking to make a firm point, he tried — and failed — to break a pen.

At the United Nations, the Ukrainian ambassador, Yuriy Sergeyev, said that 10 Russian transport aircraft and 11 attack helicopters had arrived in Crimea illegally, and that Russian troops had taken control of two airports in Crimea.

He described the gunmen posted outside the two airports as Russian armed forces as well as “unspecified” units.

“Some of them identified themselves as Russians. We know specifically some of the units,” Sergeyev said. He also said the Russians had captured the main air traffic control center on Crimea.

Serhiy Astakhov, a spokesman for the Ukrainian border service, said eight Russian transport planes landed in the Crimea Peninsula with unknown cargo.

He told The Associated Press that the Il-76 planes arrived unexpectedly and were given permission to land, one after the other, at Gvardeiskoye air base, north of the regional capital, Simferopol. Astakhov said the people in the planes refused to identify themselves and waved off customs officials, saying they didn’t require their services.

Russia kept silent on claims of military intervention, even as

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