But there were claims by Russia that gunmen from Kiev had been sent overnight to seize the offices of Crimea’s interior ministry.

There was grainy footage of an unidentified armed group breaking into a building, with smoke rising and reports that people had been “wounded”.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “As a result of the treacherous provocation, there are wounded.

“With decisive actions by self-defence groups, the attempt to seize the interior ministry building was averted.