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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One-Ship Ukraine Navy Defies Russia to the End -- Minesweeper Dodges Larger Force for Weeks in Crimea -- By Philip Shishkin, The Wall Street Journal

NOVO-OZERNE, Ukraine—Its escape to the open seas blocked by sunken ships, the Ukrainian minesweeper Cherkassy weaved and lurched in a narrow gulf on Tuesday afternoon with a symbolic, if inevitably brief, distinction: the last Ukrainian military vessel in Crimea not yet seized by the Russian navy.

From the banks of the gulf cutting into the western flank of the peninsula from the Black Sea, the Russians watched the trapped, constantly moving ship, then dispatched patrol boats to chase and bump the stubborn vessel in several unsuccessful capture attempts. 

All other Ukrainian vessels blockaded in the same gulf, known as the Donuzlav Lake, had been seized in recent weeks.

On Tuesday night, the Russians tried again to seize the minesweeper. There was gunfire, explosions and smoke grenades, while helicopters hovered above the craft.

Officials at the Russian military base on the gulf declined to comment during the standoff on Tuesday.
The maritime drama has made enemies of sailors from two navies that have long trained, lived and studied together.
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