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In pictures: Ukraine practically in a state of war with Russia, minister says

As Russian or Russian-backed forces take control of more Crimean territory, the strategic peninsula prepares for a controversial referendum that the U.S. has already condemned

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Recruits take an oath before Sergei Aksyonov, standing in suit, the self-declared Prime Minister of Crimea, to serve in self-defense units in Simferopol, Ukraine, March 10, 2014. Russian military units have reportedly taking control of more Ukrainian bases on the Crimean peninsula even as the government in Kiev and western diplomats maintain that an impending March 16 referendum on secession will be illegal.

SERGEY PONOMAREV/NYT

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Soldiers, believed to be Russian, ride armoured personnel carriers on a road near the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, March 10, 2014.

BAZ RATNER/REUTERS

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A woman walks by a poster calling people to vote in the upcoming referendum, in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol, March 10, 2014. Crimea's parliament, dominated by ethnic Russians, voted to join Russia last week and set a referendum for March 16, escalating the crisis. The poster reads, "On 16 March, we are choosing" and "or" (bottom).

BAZ RATNER/REUTERS

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Unidentified paramilitary men stand at the gates of a Ukrainian military base after occupying it in Bakhchysarai, Ukraine, Monday, March 10, 2014. Ukraine's foreign minister said Monday his country already feels like it's almost in a state of war after Russian forces took effective control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. A referendum has been called there for Sunday on whether the region should split off and seek to become part of Russia.

Vadim Ghirda/AP

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An man in military fatigues sits atop an armored personnel carrier on the road from Sevastopol to Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, Monday, March 10, 2014.

Darko Vojinovic/AP

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A convoy of military vehicles bearing no license plates travels on the road from Sevastopol to Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, Monday, March 10, 2014.

Darko Vojinovic/AP

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Recruits stand before a table where a tablet bears an oath they will swear before Sergei Aksyonov, the self-declared Prime Minister of Crimea, to serve in self-defense units in Simferopol, Ukraine, March 10, 2014.

SERGEY PONOMAREV/NYT

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Sergei Aksyonov, the self-declared Prime Minister of Crimea, attends a swearing-in ceremony for self-defense militia recruits in Simferopol, Ukraine, March 10, 2014. The government in Kiev has issued an arrest warrant for Aksyonov, who headed a regional party in Crimea called Russian Unity until a Feb. 27 legislative session which reporters were barred from attending by masked gunmen.

SERGEY PONOMAREV/NYT

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Russian soldiers stand inside the gate of a Ukrainian naval depot they captured without gunfire overnight in Chornomorskoye, in the Crimean region of Ukraine, March 10, 2014. Pro-Russian "self-defense units" and police patrolled the town, threatening reporters on hand, part of a pattern of intimidation in Crimea against media seen as friendly to the Ukrainian government.

TYLER HICKS/NYT

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A ship allegedly sunk by Russian forces blocks the entrance channel between the Black Sea and Lake Donuzlav, site of a small naval base near Myrnyi in the Crimean region of Ukraine, March 10, 2014. A nearby Ukrainian naval supply base at Chornomorskoye was also taken over by pro-Russian 'self-defense units' Monday even as Moscow said it was preparing diplomatic counterproposals regarding its relationship with (Tyler Hicks/The New York Times)

TYLER HICKS/NYT

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A convoy of military vehicles bearing no license plates travels on the road from Sevastopol to Simferopol, Crimea, Ukraine, Monday, March 10, 2014.

Darko Vojinovic/AP

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Two uniformed members of a self-defense militia speak to other men by a memorial to a fallen protester in Independence Square in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, March 10, 2014. The Kremlin says it preparing diplomatic counterproposals regarding secessionist unrest in Crimea even as Russian forces there strengthened their military control of the peninsula.

MAURICIO LIMA/NYT

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Women leave flowers and pay their respects at a memorial for protesters killed during last month's battles with riot police, in Independence Square in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, March 10, 2014. The Kremlin says it preparing diplomatic counterproposals regarding Crimea even as Russian forces there strengthened their military control of the peninsula.

MAURICIO LIMA/NYT

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