TODAY   |  March 02, 2014

Quiet, but complete, Russian takeover in Crimea

Russian troops, rocket propelled grenades at the ready, have taken over Crimea, a region in Ukraine, while local militias form and the international community weighs in. NBC’s Bill Neely reports.

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>> with today's top story. that is the increasingly tense situation in ukraine . russia is moving in there despite stern warnings from president obama and other world leaders . those warnings to stand down. bill neely is in ukraine with the latest for us. bill, good morning.

>> reporter: good morning. there has been a quiet but complete russian takeover here in crimea , one that threatens ukraine 's existence as a united country and one that puts russia and the west on a collision course. russia tightening its grip here. hundreds of russian troops on the move in crimea heading for a ukrainian military base. there's been no confrontation, not yet anyway. they haven't fired a shot. they don't need to. russian troops, rocket propelled grenades at the ready have taken over crimea without resistance and with the full backing of most of this region's people. these men have hardly said a word since they arrived, but the message they're sending is very clear, and it's gone out across the world. local militias have formed. these men ensuring no one pulls down the statue of len anyone as they've done across western ukraine . these protesters tried, there were running battles and dozens injured in ukraine 's second city. pro western demonstrators trying to attack a lenin statue and a government building. the jort here in the east are pro russian. they have the upper hand. that's the problem for ukraine 's new leaders. they're powerless to stop the loss of crimea . they called up military reservists, put the army on combat alert and appealed to the west. the east of the country is mutiny ous. there is now a standoff between russian troops and ukrainian troops at a ukrainian military base. that's not happened before, the russians demanding the ukrainians lay down their weapons and they're threatening force. erica?

>> bill, thank you. here is lester.

>>> thanks. david gregory is moderator of "meet the press." good morning.

>> good morning, lester.

>> the president spent 90 minutes