UPDATE: and from London, 12.13am GMT:
The BBC’s indomitable Nick Sutton, nightly tweeter of tomorrow’s Fleet Street front pages, notes that Ukraine leads on most.
Among them, The Sun has its own characteristic take on the crisis.
— Nick Sutton (@suttonnick) March 2, 2014
“Russian forces now have complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula, some 6,000-plus airborne and naval forces, with considerable materiel,” the official said in a briefing for reporters. “There is no question that they are in an occupation position in Crimea…”
Simferopol, Ukraine CNN — [Breaking News Update, 10:02 a.m. ET] CNN — Russias upper house of parliament voted Saturday to approve the use of military force in Ukraine. The vote was unanimous.
Witnesses told the Interfax news agency that the 50 or so men were wearing the same gear as the ones who seized government buildings in the city, Simferopol, on Thursday and raised the Russian flag.
The report said the men with “Russian Navy ensigns” first surrounded the Simferopol Airport’s domestic flights terminal.
Crimea retaliated after Ukraine ousted former president Viktor Yanukovich on February 22. The majority of residents are ethnic Russians and they made it known their loyalties lie with Russia. After Yanukovich left, Crimea kicked out their Kiev-appointed mayor and elected a Russian mayor.
Alessandra Prentice reports: Armed men seized the regional government headquarters and parliament in Ukraine’s Crimea on Thursday and raised the Russian flag, alarming Kiev’s new rulers, who urged Moscow not to abuse its navy base rights on the peninsula by moving troops around.
“We were building barricades in the night to protect parliament. Then this young Russian guy came up with a pistol … we all lay down, some more ran up, there was some shooting and around 50 went in through the window…”
“I am appealing to the military leadership of the Russian Black Sea fleet,” said Olexander Turchinov, acting president since the removal of Viktor Yanukovich last week. “Any military movements, the more so if they are with weapons, beyond the boundaries of this territory (the base) will be seen by us as military aggression.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry also summoned Russia’s acting envoy in Kiev for immediate consultations.
“We have our own constitution, Crimea is autonomous. The government in Kiev are fascists, and what they’re doing is illegal … We need to show our support for the guys inside…Power should be ours.”
There were mixed signals from Moscow, which put fighter jets along its western borders on combat alert, but earlier said it would take part in discussions on an International Monetary Fund (IMF) financial package for Ukraine. Ukraine has said it needs $35 billion over the next two years to stave off bankruptcy.
The fear of military escalation prompted expressions of concern from the West, with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen urging Russia not to do anything that would “escalate tension or create misunderstanding”.
Polish foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski called the seizure of government buildings in the Crimea a “very dangerous game”.