When Ukrainian government buildings were taken over by armed Russians
On the night of 26 to 27 February 2014, the buildings of the Government and the Verkhovna Rada of Crimea were taken over by unidentified armed men. It was later established that the group was from Russia, and a certain Igor Strelkov (Girkin) participated in those events. In April 2014 Strelkov and another group of fighters took over the city of Sloviansk in the east of Ukraine. In April one of the Commanders that occupied Sloviansk made a mistake telling journalists: "Our Crimean, that is, Donbas militia." Thus, he confirmed that militants came from Crimea. It turned out later that they were trained there.
On March 27, the airport in Simferopol was also occupied. Unmarked, well-equipped and armed soldiers appeared in the streets of the city. They were called "little green men” or “polite people". Soon, they blocked Ukrainian military units stationed in Crimea.
The President of the Russia Federation, Vladimir Putin, maintained that "polite people" have nothing in common with the Russian army. It was only in the interview on the first anniversary of the annexation of Crimea when he admitted that the Russian soldiers had been involved in the "annexation of Crimea" operation from the very beginning. Interestingly there is a medal made on the occasion of the annexation. It is called "For the return of Crimea" and the beginning of this operation was established on February 20, 2014. According to the Ukrainian side, this is confirmed by the fact that Russia began the operation in Crimea while Viktor Yanukovych was still the President of Ukraine (he was deprived of that position by the Ukrainian parliament on February 22, 2014).
On March 16, 2014, the so-called referendum took place in Crimea. According to the Russian authorities, most voters were in favour of separating Crimea from Ukraine. Two days later Putin announced the annexation of the Peninsula to the Russian Federation. The European Union and the United States imposed sanctions on Russia.