The newly appointed head of Ukraine’s navy has sworn allegiance to the Crimea region, in the presence of its unrecognised pro-Russian leader.
Rear Admiral Denis Berezovsky was only made head of the navy on Saturday, as the government in Kiev reacted to the threat of Russian invasion.
Russia’s troops have been consolidating their hold on Crimea, which is home to its Black Sea Fleet.
The US has warned Moscow may be ejected from the G8 for its actions.
US President Barack Obama called Russian troop deployments a “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty”.
‘Brink of disaster’
Ukraine has ordered a full military mobilisation in response to Russia’s build-up of its forces on the Crimean peninsula. Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has warned the country is “on the brink of disaster”.
In Crimea, Ukrainian soldiers faced off with Russian soldiers surrounding their bases on Sunday while the Russian army was said to be digging trenches on the border with mainland Ukraine.
The UK has joined the US, France and Canada in suspending preparations for a summit of the G8 in Russia in June. Nato, of which Ukraine is not a member, is conducting emergency talks.
Admiral Berezovsky appeared in Sevastopol before cameras alongside Sergiy Aksyonov, the pro-Russian politician elected by Crimea’s regional parliament as local prime minister.
Mr Aksyonov announced he had given orders to Ukrainian naval forces on the peninsula to disregard any orders from the “self-proclaimed” authorities in Kiev.
Sunday, he said, would go down in history as the birthday of the “navy of the autonomous republic of Crimea”.
The admiral then pledged to “strictly obey the orders of the supreme commander of the autonomous republic of Crimea” and “defend the lives and freedom” of Crimea’s people.