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On March 18, 2014,[6] a Ukrainian soldier and a Crimean self-defense trooper were killed in the first case of bloodshed during the Russian military intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.

2014 Simferopol incident
Part of the Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation and the Ukraine Crisis
DateMarch 18, 2014

Ukrainian military base captured

 Ukraine  Russia
Autonomous Republic of Crimea Crimea[1]
Commanders and leaders
Col. Andriy Andryushyn Surrendered
(Defected to Russia)[2]
Russia Col. Igor Strelkov
Units involved

Ukrainian Armed Forces

  • 13th photogrammetric center[3]

Russian Armed Forces

20, including civilians[5] 15+[5]
Casualties and losses
1 serviceman killed,
2 wounded,
18 captured (later released)
1 killed,
3 wounded[1]
Notes: Cause of deaths disputed[2][5]

After the attack, the Crimean interior ministry stated that a militant from Right Sector had been detained, according to Russian media Right Sector had previously stated (on February 27, 2014) that it did not have any intention to go to Crimea.[7] On March 20, Crimean prosecution denied that the detention had happened.[8]

None of the accounts of this event could be verified independently.[4] The Ukrainian and the Crimean authorities provided conflicting reports of the event.[9][4] The two casualties had a joint funeral attended by both Crimean and Ukrainian authorities. The event continues to be under investigation by both the Crimean authorities and the Ukrainian military.[10][11][12]


Ukrainian versionEdit

Storming of Ukrainian military facilityEdit

On March 18, 2014, at 3 p.m, 15 masked gunmen attired in Russian uniforms without insignia, stormed the 13th Photogrammetric Center of the Central Military-Topographic and Navigation Administration in Simferopol, Crimea.[13][14] The base was administered by Ukrainian soldiers and had been completely surrounded by pro-Russian and Crimean Self-Defense troops since 13 March. Pro-Russian forces demanded that the garrison surrender the base or otherwise they will take the center with force.[3]

Although it is unclear how the incident initially began, reports emerged of a pro-Russian self-defense member attempting to scale a wall into the base compound, and being told to get back by Ukrainian guards. The argument escalated into live gunfire being exchanged by both sides and the storming of the base itself. However, civilian testimonies indicated seeing self-defense troops and militiamen preparing for a possible storming of the base prior any confrontation.

Soldier Serhiy Kokurin, a Ukrainian junior officer manning a watchtower overseeing a vehicle pool at the base, was fatally injured in the neck during the shoot-out. A second Ukrainian serviceman was shot in the neck and evacuated by several ambulances. The ambulances were granted entrance to the scene by self-defense troops, who sealed off the base to journalists. This death marked the first military fatality in the Russian takeover of Crimea. In addition to the officer, an ethnic Russian volunteer was reported killed per Crimean authorities, though it was unclear if he was killed by resisting Ukrainian troops or by accidental friendly fire (both were reported).

The storming followed with the takeover of the park located within the base's compound and the Ukrainian command center. According to civilians and journalists at the scene, a total of 15 unmarked soldiers, armed with shotguns and AK-47s, participated in the assault, supported by two military vehicles bearing the Russian flag.[15] A Ukrainian soldier on patrol at the park was beaten by self-defense soldiers with a pair of iron rods during the capture. The soldier's condition was reported as serious, according to military accounts.

Shooting continued until the Ukrainian commander, Colonel Andriy Andryushyn, was captured. He was taken hostage, along with several other soldiers, in order to gain entry into the base's nautical building, where the remaining Ukrainian personnel had barricaded themselves on the second floor, refusing to surrender. The Ukrainian commander was interrogated by Russian troops, and allegedly declared his defection to the "People of Crimea" afterwards.

Negotiations over the surrender of the nautical building, and the Ukrainian troops inside, continued until late Tuesday evening, when talks were met over their surrender. A total of 18 remaining Ukrainian soldiers were detained and placed under arrest by gunmen. The soldiers were placed in rows and had all identification marks, weapons, and money confiscated at the behest of Crimean police.[4][2][5][16][17] By March 24, the remaining Ukrainian troops who had been captured during the altercation were freed, unharmed.

Government reactionsEdit

Ukrainian interim prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused Russia of a war crime over the incident.[18] "Today, Russian soldiers began shooting at Ukrainian servicemen and this is a war crime without any expiry under a statute of limitations."[19] Acting Ukrainian president Oleksandr Turchynov suggested that the Russian annexation of Crimea was moving from a political phase to a military phase, following the announcement of the death of a servicemen. He issued orders on the night of 18 March, allowing Ukrainian soldiers to use their weapons to defend themselves. The Ukrainian government released a statement declaring that the steps Russia was reminiscent to those taken by Nazi Germany and its annexations of territories before the start of World War 2.[19]

The Treaty on Accession of the Republic of Crimea to Russia was signed on the same day by Vladimir Putin and the self-declared Crimean republic, formally joining the independent Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation as two federal subjects - the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol.[20]

International reactionsEdit

British prime minister David Cameron said: "The steps taken by President Putin today to attempt to annexe Crimea to Russia are in flagrant breach of international law and send a chilling message across the continent of Europe. Russia will face more serious consequences and I will push European leaders to agree further EU measures."[18][19]

Russian versionEdit

Alleged Right Sector sniperEdit

On March 19, 2014 Russian media, citing Crimean police, reported that authorities had detained a 17-year-old nationalist Right Sector marksman from Western Ukraine in connection to the killings.[21] Sergey Aksyonov, de facto Head of Crimea, confirmed it in Twitter.[22] Later, however, Crimean prosecutors denied detaining any gunmen, according to Interfax. "The information on the shooter's detention has not been confirmed. It is untrue. Unfortunately, no one has been detained yet," Natalia Boyarkina, press officer for the Crimean prosecutors, told Interfax-Ukraine on March 20.[8]

Igor Strelkov participationEdit

Igor Strelkov, the commander of pro-Russian forces in the War in Donbass in 2014, admitted in his interview he gave on November 20, 2014, he was in charge of the Center's assault.[23]

I was in charge of the only unit of Crimean militia, the spetsnaz company, which carried out combat missions. But after the combat for cartography base when 2 people died (I was that battle's commander), the company was disbanded and its members parted.

(Russian: Я командовал единственным подразделением крымского ополчения: рота специального назначения, которая выполняла боевые задачи. Но после боя за картографическую часть, когда двое погибло (а я этим боем командовал), рота была расформирована, люди разъезжались.)

— Igor Strelkov, Newspaper "Zavtra", 20 November 2014[23]

Investigation by Crimean Prosecutor GeneralEdit

The Crimean Prosecutor General Natalia Poklonskaya investigated the incident.

Initial statement of Crimean Prosecutor GeneralEdit

The day after the incident, Poklonskaya reported that pre-trial investigation services had determined the following:

Several unarmed officials of the Russian Defense Ministry came to the Ukrainian military base to discuss cartography issues. This meeting had been agreed upon by both the base's Commander and Kiev. While they were inside the base, Crimean self-defense forces were shot outside the base.

A series of shots were fired both at Ukrainian soldiers and members of Crimean self-defence forces. There were victims on both sides: a Cossack self-defense soldier was killed, and another was injured. One Ukrainian soldier from the military base was killed and another was injured.

At the time of Poklonskaya's initial statement, the exact position and number of shooters were unknown.

The scene was examined by six investigation groups, including criminologists, detectives from the Crimean Republic attorney office, detectives from the main department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs [of Ukraine or Russia?], and members of related departments. Poklonskaya stated that according to these experts, the incident was very similar to the snipers' attacks on Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev's central square, from February 18 to 21, 2014. Their goal was allegedly to provoke conflict between soldiers of Ukraine and the Crimean Republic.

Several expert examinations were completed, including forensic medical examinations. Ballistic examinations were continuing, along with witness interviews.[citation needed]



  • Ensign (Praporshchik) Serhiy Kokurin – killed (shot while on patrol. He received 2 shots by 5.45 mm caliber bullets, one bullet hit the heart)[5][24]
  • Captain Valentyn Fedun – wounded in the neck and arm[5]
  • Unidentified Ukrainian soldier – seriously injured in the head after blows from an iron bar[5]

Crimean Self-Defense ForcesEdit


  1. ^ a b c Moryleva, Anastasiia (March 24, 2014). Под Волгоградом похоронили Руслана Казакова, погибшего от рук снайпера в Симферополе [Ruslan Kazakov, who died at the hands of a sniper in Simferopol, buried in Volgograd]. Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian). Archived from the original on January 7, 2015. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d Polityuk, Pavel (March 18, 2014). "Ukraine Officer Shot Dead In Simferopol, Crimea". The Huffington Post. Reuters. Archived from the original on March 19, 2014. Retrieved March 19, 2014.
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  7. ^ 'Правий сектор' не братиме участь у врегулюванні ситуації у Криму ['Right Sector' will not participate in bringing order to the situation in Crimea] (in Ukrainian). Mirror Weekly. February 27, 2014. Archived from the original on February 23, 2016.
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  9. ^ "Ukrainian officer wounded in Crimea shooting: military spokesman". Reuters. March 18, 2014. Archived from the original on March 21, 2014 – via Yahoo! News.
  10. ^ a b Oliphant, Roland (March 22, 2014). "Ukraine's unlikeliest funeral: the only two foes to die in Russia's Crimea takeover are mourned together". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
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  12. ^ "Funeral held for Crimea's first casualties". Agence France-Presse. March 22, 2014. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  13. ^ В Симферополе российские военнослужащие штурмуют фотограмметрический центр ВС Украины, ранен в шею украинец [In Simferopol, Russian troops stormed the photogrammetric center of Ukrainian Armed Forces, a Ukrainian wounded in the neck] (in Russian). Interfax-Ukraine. March 18, 2014. Archived from the original on March 19, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  14. ^ March 19, 2014. Ukraine cries 'robbery' as Russia annexes Crimea. CNN. (Retrieved March 19, 2014).
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  17. ^ "Shots fired in Crimea, Ukraine soldier killed". USA Today. Associated Press. March 18, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2014.
  18. ^ a b Gearin, Mary (March 19, 2014). "Ukrainian serviceman killed hours after Putin signs Crimea annexation legislation". Archived from the original on March 20, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  19. ^ a b c "Ukraine says Crimea conflict 'moving to military phase'". The Irish Times. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  20. ^ Treaty on Accession of the Republic of Crimea to Russia Agreement on the accession of the Republic of Crimea to the Russian Federation signed, accessed January 23, 2016
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  26. ^ ForPost, “Госпиталь Черноморского флота принял на лечение раненого бойца крымской самообороны”, 2014-04-14.