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Russian Troops Continue Movements In Crimea


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Russian President Vladimir Putin is lobbying European leaders today, repeating his claim that the buildup of Russian troops in Crimea is in line with international law. President Obama has also been making phone calls to European allies. They are divided over sanctions but all agree that Russian troops need to pull back. There is no sign though that's happening. NPR's Emily Harris went to the northern edge of the peninsula and found Russian troops firmly entrenched.


EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Two main roads lead out of Crimea. The one heading east crosses a thin channel of water between the Sea of Azov and Lake Sivash. Here, Russian troops are literally digging in. A military checkpoint has been built here. Six-foot-tall walls of sandbags stand on each side of the road. To the west, a freshly dug ditch stretches at least a hundred yards toward the edge of the lake. Russian-made armored personnel carriers and military truck travel off road and on. At least six large tents are set up here. An outdoor kitchen is operating nearby. Dozens of men in blue or green fatigues move around here. One, wearing a black mask over his face and carrying an AK-47 in his arms, watches traffic heading north. Another, with a sniper rifle strapped on his back, walks in and out of a small concrete building. Trucks coming south are stopped briefly but then appear to be allowed through. Going north, drivers slow down, but also can pass. This is a spot on the road where people usually stop to buy smoked fish from the Sea of Azov. One woman says business has dropped since the soldiers arrived 10 days ago. People are afraid to come, she says. But not her. Everything's fine, she says. Technically, this is not Crimea. It's a few hundred yards onto the Ukrainian mainland. West of here, on the other road out, that heads toward Kiev, armed men have stopped a delegation from Europe from entering Crimea three days in a row. As Western leaders discuss sanctions and meetings, it's clear the Russian troops here aren't going anywhere soon. Emily Harris, NPR News, Dzhankoy, Crimea. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

International Correspondent Emily Harris is based in Jerusalem as part of NPR's Mideast team. Her post covers news related to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She began this role in March of 2013.
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