The Standoff at Belbek: Inside the First Clash of the Second Crimean War

A primeira troca de tiros na Ucrânia não teve consequências. Mas deu uma bela história


The Ukrainian troops kept the bonfires burning all night on Monday, kicking stones into the embers and waiting for the sun to rise over the Belbek air force base in southern Ukraine. Five days had passed since the start of the siege against them and the strain on the troops was starting to show. The previous day, the Russian forces surrounding their base had issued another ultimatum – surrender your weapons that night and sign an oath of allegiance to Russia or face an assault by 5:00 a.m. The commanders had refused. Some of the troops had defected. The rest stood around the garrison, smoking cigarettes and twitching when the logs popped in the fires. They only understood that the Russians had been bluffing when the roosters started to crow.

The next bluff came soon after, and it marked a turning point in the week-old conflict that has brought Russia…

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