CNN reporter Diana Magnay bravely confronted some of the masked gunmen who are now patrolling the streets in Crimea, Ukraine. While officials in the country claim it is a Russian “occupation,” the men bear no insignia on their uniforms and their vehicles have no plates.
“Can we ask you guys where you’re from?” Magnay asks with the help of a translator. “[Are] you from Russia?”
The only response she got was silence.
Magnay reports that not even locals have been able to confirm that the gunmen are indeed Russians.
Watch the video below via CNN:
The armed men, who have been 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.
Unidentified armed men patrol outside of Simferopol airport, on February 28, 2014. Ukraine accused today Russia of staging an 'armed invasion' of Crimea and appealed to the West to guarantee its territorial integrity after pro-Moscow gunmen took control of the peninsula's main airport. AFP PHOTO / VIKTOR DRACHEV
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.