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A Ukrainian official said Russian forces seized a natural gas distribution station near Crimea on Saturday, the eve of a referendum on whether the region should seek annexation by Moscow.

The action in Strelkova appeared to be the first move outside Crimea, where Russian forces have been in effective control since late last month. Border guard spokesman Oleg Slobodyan told The Associated Press that a contingent of about 120 troops occupied the station in Strelkova, about 10 kilometers outside Crimea.

The Defense Ministry earlier reported that a Russian attempt to take the station had been repelled, but Slobodyan said that information was outdated.

As Crimea prepares for Sunday’s referendum, dozens of billboards throughout the regional capital proclaim “Together With Russia.” But a few have been hit by spray-painters who scrawled out “Russia” and replaced it with “Ukraine.”

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