Yanukovych defiant in 1st appearance since flight

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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) — Ukraine’s fugitive president resurfaced in Russia to deliver a defiant condemnation of a “bandit coup,” while Russian armored vehicles bearing the nation’s tricolor rumbled across Crimea and men described as Russian troops took position at airports and a coast guard base — ominous signs of Russia’s iron hand in Ukraine’s confrontation.

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

Associated Press journalists in Crimea spotted a convoy of nine Russian armored personnel carriers on a road between the port city of Sevastopol, where Russia has a naval base, and the regional capital, Simferopol.

Russia kept silent on claims of military intervention, even as it maintained its hard-line stance on protecting ethnic Russians in Crimea, a territory that has played a symbolic role in its national identity.

Appearing for the first time since fleeing Ukraine, 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,” he told reporters in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don near the border with Ukraine. In his closing remarks, seeking to make a firm point, Yanukovych tried — and failed — to break a pen.

Western powers, meanwhile, pressured Moscow to exercise restraint.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he had spoken with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — and delivered a warning against military moves that could further inflame tensions.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Putin and expressed concern about an escalation in Crimea, her government said. The Kremlin said that Putin also had conversations with British Prime Minister David Cameron and EU President Herman Van Rompuy.

In Kiev, Ukraine’s newly named interior minister accused Russia of military aggression.

“I can only describe this as a military invasion and occupation,” Avakov wrote in a Facebook post.

The chief of Ukraine’s security council, Andriy Parubiy, softened the tone later in the day, saying gunmen had tried to “seize” the airports in the Crimean cities of Simferopol and Sevastopol but insisting that “de facto the airports are controlled by the law enforcement bodies of Ukraine.”

Parliament adopted a resolution demanding that Russia halt steps it says are aimed against Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and called for a U.N. Security Council meeting on the crisis.

Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service said about 30 Russian marines from Russia’s Sevastopol-based Black Sea Fleet had taken up position outside the Ukrainian Coast Guard base in the area. It claimed the marines said they were there to prevent any weapons at the base from being seized by extremists.

Experts said Russia’s hand in Crimea was clear — whether or not the armed men at the airports and the Coast Guard base were actually Russian soldiers.

“I think there two possibilities. One is

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