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By Peter Graff and Andrew Osborn KIEV/SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine (Reuters) - The mood darkened in Russian-occupied Crimea on Saturday after overnight confrontations between Russian troops and besieged Ukrainian soldiers raised tensions on the ground in the biggest East-West face-off since the Cold War. Pressure levels have increased markedly in the two days since the region's pro-Moscow leadership declared that it is now part of Russia and announced a March 16 referendum to confirm it. President Vladimir Putin declared a week ago that Russia has the right to invade Ukraine to protect Russian citizens, and his parliament has voted to change the law to make it easier to annex territory. So far, Russia's seizure of the Black Sea peninsula has remained bloodless, but its forces have become increasingly aggressive towards Ukrainian troops, who are trapped in bases and have offered no resistance.
By Anuradha Raghu and Nguyen Phuong Linh KUALA LUMPUR/HANOI (Reuters) - A Malaysia Airlines flight carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew went missing off the Vietnamese coast on Saturday as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and was presumed to have crashed. There were no reports of bad weather and no sign why the Boeing 777-200ER, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent engines, would have vanished from radar screens about an hour after take-off. A large number of planes and ships from several countries were scouring the area where the plane last made contact, about halfway between Malaysia and the southern tip of Vietnam. "The search and rescue operations will continue as long as necessary," Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.