A Crimean army sniper defending an army base in the Crimean capital of Simferopol, shot two Ukrainian junior officers who were part of an armed assault on the base with assistance from masked mercenaries possibly from the United States. After holding a regional referendum, the majority ethnic Russian population of Crimean voted to break away from Ukraine and become part of the Russian Federation.
Armed masked men were videotaped on the streets of the ethnic Russian city of Donetsk, which is located in eastern Ukraine the same day as the Crimea referendum. Whom these mercenaries work for depends on whom you ask. The American right wing conservative blog The Daily Beast reported it had exclusive evidence that a Russian based private security company working for Putin were the masked mercenaries but Russian news media reported that the men had connections to United States based private mercenary companies.
Hours after Russian president Vladimir Putin gave a speech welcoming Crimea to the Russian Federation, at least two Ukrainian junior officers took part in a failed military assault that included masked mercenaries. One officer was killed and the other injured by the same sniper. Some media outlets are marking the officer’s death as the first armed military casualty with more to come.