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Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

NOVOOZERNOE, Crimea (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister met with his Ukrainian counterpart for the first time on Monday and demanded more autonomy for Ukraine’s regions, even as Ukraine under pressure ordered its troops out from Crimea after the Russian seizure of military bases there.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an unexpected move agreed to the highest level meeting yet between the Russian government and a representative of the new Ukrainian government that Moscow has opposed vociferously over the past month.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Hague, Netherlands.

Lavrov told Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia that Russia continues to want constitutional changes in Ukraine that would give more autonomy to all regions of Ukraine.

Russia is eager to retain its influence in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern regions and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. It has pushed for the new Ukraine to become a loose federation – demands the new Ukrainian government has rejected.

Before the meeting, Deshchytsia said his government fears a Russian military buildup near Ukraine’s border. “The possibility of a military invasion is very high. We are very much worried about this concentration of troops on our eastern border,” he said.

The concerns have been deepened in by the intense military pressure Russia has applied in Crimea since Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the peninsula last week. Russian forces have commandeered ships and broke into walled military installations with armored personnel carriers.

In the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea, dozens of Ukrainian sailors marooned on the Konstantin Olshanskiy navy landing vessel abandoned ship Monday after weeks of tension and uncertainty. The Olshanskiy and two other warships have been trapped in the bay since Russian forces scuttled mothballed ships at the bay’s inlet.

The sailors, using a small rubber boat that needed several trips to ferry them to land, were greeted by the taunts of hecklers on the shore.

One man shouted they were deserting “rats,” while another man blasted the Russian national anthem from his car.

“We aren’t rats, we aren’t running,” said one sailor, who only gave his first name of Yevgeny to discuss a sensitive subject. “Why should we have stayed, what would we have accomplished?”

Twenty out of the estimated 60 sailors originally on board remained on the ship, which was later in the day stormed by armed men, presumed to be Russian forces.

Defense Ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said the crew, which barricaded itself in the bulkhead, heard stun grenades and rifle fire.

At a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, two injured servicemen were taken captive earlier in the day and as many as 80 were detained at the site, Ukrainian officials said.

With the storming of at least three military facilities in Crimea over the past three days – and the decision by some Ukrainian troops to stay employed by switching to the Russian side – it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. The former chief of Ukraine’s navy, who was charged with treason after he swore allegiance to Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities and urged others to defect, was named a deputy chief of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchnynov, whose new government in Kiev has struggled to maintain control and cohesion, signed a decree Monday ordering the withdrawal of all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland.

But in remarks that seemed to underline the disarray that has characterized the Ukrainian authorities, the Defense Ministry spokesman later stated he had heard about no such order.

Leonard reported from Kiev. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Julie Pace reported from the Hague.

Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

NOVOOZERNOE, Crimea (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister met with his Ukrainian counterpart for the first time on Monday and demanded more autonomy for Ukraine’s regions, even as Ukraine under pressure ordered its troops out from Crimea after the Russian seizure of military bases there.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an unexpected move agreed to the highest level meeting yet between the Russian government and a representative of the new Ukrainian government that Moscow has opposed vociferously over the past month.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Hague, Netherlands.

Lavrov told Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia that Russia continues to want constitutional changes in Ukraine that would give more autonomy to all regions of Ukraine.

Russia is eager to retain its influence in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern regions and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. It has pushed for the new Ukraine to become a loose federation – demands the new Ukrainian government has rejected.

Before the meeting, Deshchytsia said his government fears a Russian military buildup near Ukraine’s border. “The possibility of a military invasion is very high. We are very much worried about this concentration of troops on our eastern border,” he said.

The concerns have been deepened in by the intense military pressure Russia has applied in Crimea since Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the peninsula last week. Russian forces have commandeered ships and broke into walled military installations with armored personnel carriers.

In the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea, dozens of Ukrainian sailors marooned on the Konstantin Olshanskiy navy landing vessel abandoned ship Monday after weeks of tension and uncertainty. The Olshanskiy and two other warships have been trapped in the bay since Russian forces scuttled mothballed ships at the bay’s inlet.

The sailors, using a small rubber boat that needed several trips to ferry them to land, were greeted by the taunts of hecklers on the shore.

One man shouted they were deserting “rats,” while another man blasted the Russian national anthem from his car.

“We aren’t rats, we aren’t running,” said one sailor, who only gave his first name of Yevgeny to discuss a sensitive subject. “Why should we have stayed, what would we have accomplished?”

Twenty out of the estimated 60 sailors originally on board remained on the ship, which was later in the day stormed by armed men, presumed to be Russian forces.

Defense Ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said the crew, which barricaded itself in the bulkhead, heard stun grenades and rifle fire.

At a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, two injured servicemen were taken captive earlier in the day and as many as 80 were detained at the site, Ukrainian officials said.

With the storming of at least three military facilities in Crimea over the past three days – and the decision by some Ukrainian troops to stay employed by switching to the Russian side – it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. The former chief of Ukraine’s navy, who was charged with treason after he swore allegiance to Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities and urged others to defect, was named a deputy chief of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchnynov, whose new government in Kiev has struggled to maintain control and cohesion, signed a decree Monday ordering the withdrawal of all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland.

But in remarks that seemed to underline the disarray that has characterized the Ukrainian authorities, the Defense Ministry spokesman later stated he had heard about no such order.

Leonard reported from Kiev. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Julie Pace reported from the Hague.

Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

NOVOOZERNOE, Crimea (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister met with his Ukrainian counterpart for the first time on Monday and demanded more autonomy for Ukraine’s regions, even as Ukraine under pressure ordered its troops out from Crimea after the Russian seizure of military bases there.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an unexpected move agreed to the highest level meeting yet between the Russian government and a representative of the new Ukrainian government that Moscow has opposed vociferously over the past month.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Hague, Netherlands.

Lavrov told Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia that Russia continues to want constitutional changes in Ukraine that would give more autonomy to all regions of Ukraine.

Russia is eager to retain its influence in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern regions and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. It has pushed for the new Ukraine to become a loose federation – demands the new Ukrainian government has rejected.

Before the meeting, Deshchytsia said his government fears a Russian military buildup near Ukraine’s border. “The possibility of a military invasion is very high. We are very much worried about this concentration of troops on our eastern border,” he said.

The concerns have been deepened in by the intense military pressure Russia has applied in Crimea since Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the peninsula last week. Russian forces have commandeered ships and broke into walled military installations with armored personnel carriers.

In the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea, dozens of Ukrainian sailors marooned on the Konstantin Olshanskiy navy landing vessel abandoned ship Monday after weeks of tension and uncertainty. The Olshanskiy and two other warships have been trapped in the bay since Russian forces scuttled mothballed ships at the bay’s inlet.

The sailors, using a small rubber boat that needed several trips to ferry them to land, were greeted by the taunts of hecklers on the shore.

One man shouted they were deserting “rats,” while another man blasted the Russian national anthem from his car.

“We aren’t rats, we aren’t running,” said one sailor, who only gave his first name of Yevgeny to discuss a sensitive subject. “Why should we have stayed, what would we have accomplished?”

Twenty out of the estimated 60 sailors originally on board remained on the ship, which was later in the day stormed by armed men, presumed to be Russian forces.

Defense Ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said the crew, which barricaded itself in the bulkhead, heard stun grenades and rifle fire.

At a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, two injured servicemen were taken captive earlier in the day and as many as 80 were detained at the site, Ukrainian officials said.

With the storming of at least three military facilities in Crimea over the past three days – and the decision by some Ukrainian troops to stay employed by switching to the Russian side – it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. The former chief of Ukraine’s navy, who was charged with treason after he swore allegiance to Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities and urged others to defect, was named a deputy chief of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchnynov, whose new government in Kiev has struggled to maintain control and cohesion, signed a decree Monday ordering the withdrawal of all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland.

But in remarks that seemed to underline the disarray that has characterized the Ukrainian authorities, the Defense Ministry spokesman later stated he had heard about no such order.

Leonard reported from Kiev. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Julie Pace reported from the Hague.

Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

NOVOOZERNOE, Crimea (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister met with his Ukrainian counterpart for the first time on Monday and demanded more autonomy for Ukraine’s regions, even as Ukraine under pressure ordered its troops out from Crimea after the Russian seizure of military bases there.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an unexpected move agreed to the highest level meeting yet between the Russian government and a representative of the new Ukrainian government that Moscow has opposed vociferously over the past month.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Hague, Netherlands.

Lavrov told Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia that Russia continues to want constitutional changes in Ukraine that would give more autonomy to all regions of Ukraine.

Russia is eager to retain its influence in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern regions and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. It has pushed for the new Ukraine to become a loose federation – demands the new Ukrainian government has rejected.

Before the meeting, Deshchytsia said his government fears a Russian military buildup near Ukraine’s border. “The possibility of a military invasion is very high. We are very much worried about this concentration of troops on our eastern border,” he said.

The concerns have been deepened in by the intense military pressure Russia has applied in Crimea since Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the peninsula last week. Russian forces have commandeered ships and broke into walled military installations with armored personnel carriers.

In the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea, dozens of Ukrainian sailors marooned on the Konstantin Olshanskiy navy landing vessel abandoned ship Monday after weeks of tension and uncertainty. The Olshanskiy and two other warships have been trapped in the bay since Russian forces scuttled mothballed ships at the bay’s inlet.

The sailors, using a small rubber boat that needed several trips to ferry them to land, were greeted by the taunts of hecklers on the shore.

One man shouted they were deserting “rats,” while another man blasted the Russian national anthem from his car.

“We aren’t rats, we aren’t running,” said one sailor, who only gave his first name of Yevgeny to discuss a sensitive subject. “Why should we have stayed, what would we have accomplished?”

Twenty out of the estimated 60 sailors originally on board remained on the ship, which was later in the day stormed by armed men, presumed to be Russian forces.

Defense Ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said the crew, which barricaded itself in the bulkhead, heard stun grenades and rifle fire.

At a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, two injured servicemen were taken captive earlier in the day and as many as 80 were detained at the site, Ukrainian officials said.

With the storming of at least three military facilities in Crimea over the past three days – and the decision by some Ukrainian troops to stay employed by switching to the Russian side – it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. The former chief of Ukraine’s navy, who was charged with treason after he swore allegiance to Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities and urged others to defect, was named a deputy chief of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchnynov, whose new government in Kiev has struggled to maintain control and cohesion, signed a decree Monday ordering the withdrawal of all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland.

But in remarks that seemed to underline the disarray that has characterized the Ukrainian authorities, the Defense Ministry spokesman later stated he had heard about no such order.

Leonard reported from Kiev. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Julie Pace reported from the Hague.

Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

NOVOOZERNOE, Crimea (AP) — Russia’s foreign minister met with his Ukrainian counterpart for the first time on Monday and demanded more autonomy for Ukraine’s regions, even as Ukraine under pressure ordered its troops out from Crimea after the Russian seizure of military bases there.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in an unexpected move agreed to the highest level meeting yet between the Russian government and a representative of the new Ukrainian government that Moscow has opposed vociferously over the past month.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Hague, Netherlands.

Lavrov told Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia that Russia continues to want constitutional changes in Ukraine that would give more autonomy to all regions of Ukraine.

Russia is eager to retain its influence in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern regions and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. It has pushed for the new Ukraine to become a loose federation – demands the new Ukrainian government has rejected.

Before the meeting, Deshchytsia said his government fears a Russian military buildup near Ukraine’s border. “The possibility of a military invasion is very high. We are very much worried about this concentration of troops on our eastern border,” he said.

The concerns have been deepened in by the intense military pressure Russia has applied in Crimea since Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the peninsula last week. Russian forces have commandeered ships and broke into walled military installations with armored personnel carriers.

In the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea, dozens of Ukrainian sailors marooned on the Konstantin Olshanskiy navy landing vessel abandoned ship Monday after weeks of tension and uncertainty. The Olshanskiy and two other warships have been trapped in the bay since Russian forces scuttled mothballed ships at the bay’s inlet.

The sailors, using a small rubber boat that needed several trips to ferry them to land, were greeted by the taunts of hecklers on the shore.

One man shouted they were deserting “rats,” while another man blasted the Russian national anthem from his car.

“We aren’t rats, we aren’t running,” said one sailor, who only gave his first name of Yevgeny to discuss a sensitive subject. “Why should we have stayed, what would we have accomplished?”

Twenty out of the estimated 60 sailors originally on board remained on the ship, which was later in the day stormed by armed men, presumed to be Russian forces.

Defense Ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said the crew, which barricaded itself in the bulkhead, heard stun grenades and rifle fire.

At a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, two injured servicemen were taken captive earlier in the day and as many as 80 were detained at the site, Ukrainian officials said.

With the storming of at least three military facilities in Crimea over the past three days – and the decision by some Ukrainian troops to stay employed by switching to the Russian side – it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. The former chief of Ukraine’s navy, who was charged with treason after he swore allegiance to Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities and urged others to defect, was named a deputy chief of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchnynov, whose new government in Kiev has struggled to maintain control and cohesion, signed a decree Monday ordering the withdrawal of all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland.

But in remarks that seemed to underline the disarray that has characterized the Ukrainian authorities, the Defense Ministry spokesman later stated he had heard about no such order.

Leonard reported from Kiev. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report. Julie Pace reported from the Hague.

Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

NOVOOZERNOE, Crimea (AP) — Ukraine’s fledgling government ordered troops to pull back Monday from Crimea, ending days of wavering as Russian forces stormed and seized bases on the peninsula. Even as Moscow ratcheted up the military heat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his Ukrainian counterpart in the highest level encounter between the two countries since the Crimea invasion.

On the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Hague, Netherlands, Lavrov reaffirmed Moscow’s demand for constitutional reform in Ukraine that would give more autonomy to all regions of Ukraine. Russia, eager to retain its influence in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking eastern regions and prevent Ukraine from joining NATO, has pushed for Ukraine to become federation – demands the new Ukrainian government has rejected.

Before the meeting, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia said his government remains concerned about a Russian military buildup near Ukraine’s border.

“The possibility of a military invasion is very high. We are very much worried about this concentration of troops on our eastern border,” he said.

The Ukrainian concerns have been deepened in by the intense military pressure Russia has applied in Crimea since Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed the peninsula last week. Russian forces have commandeered ships and broke into walled military installations with armored personnel carriers.

In the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea, dozens of Ukrainian sailors marooned on the Konstantin Olshanskiy navy landing vessel abandoned ship Monday after weeks of tension and uncertainty. The Olshanskiy and two other warships have been trapped in the bay since Russian forces scuttled mothballed ships at the bay’s inlet.

The sailors, using a small rubber boat that needed several trips to ferry them to land, were greeted by the taunts of hecklers on the shore.

One man shouted they were deserting “rats,” while another man blasted the Russian national anthem from his car.

“We aren’t rats, we aren’t running,” said one sailor, who only gave his first name of Yevgeny to discuss a sensitive subject. “Why should we have stayed, what would we have accomplished?”

Twenty out of the estimated 60 sailors originally on board remained on the ship, which was later in the day stormed by armed men, presumed to be Russian forces.

Defense Ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said the crew, which barricaded itself in the bulkhead, heard stun grenades and rifle fire.

At a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, two injured servicemen were taken captive earlier in the day and as many as 80 were detained at the site, Ukrainian officials said.

As tensions remained high in Crimea, President Barack Obama and Western allies moved to purge Russia from the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations a few months before it was to host its summit.

In the Hague, Obama met with leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations that includes the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan for talks on Ukraine.

“We’re united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far,” Obama said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the G-8 meeting set for the summer will not take place. The G-7 said they would meet instead in Brussels in June, without Russia.

With the storming of at least three military facilities in Crimea over the past three days – and the decision by some Ukrainian troops to stay employed by switching to the Russian side – it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. The former chief of Ukraine’s navy, who was charged with treason after he swore allegiance to Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities and urged others to defect, was named a deputy chief of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchnynov, whose new government in Kiev has struggled to maintain control and cohesion, signed a decree Monday ordering the withdrawal of all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland. But in remarks that seemed to underline the disarray that has characterized the Ukrainian authorities, the Defense Ministry spokesman later stated he had heard about no such order.

Speaking in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, Turchnynov said troops would be evacuated with their families in response to threats from what he called occupying Russian forces.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that it has registered an increase in Russian troops in Crimea and seen large amounts of Russian forces bordering the mainland.

“The number of Russian armed forces on Crimean territory has risen to more than 22,000,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevgeny Perebiynis was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

The Ukrainian military has declined to specify the precise number of soldiers in Crimea before its annexation. But Oleksandr Rozmaznin, deputy chief of operations for Ukraine’s armed forces, said Monday around half the troops in Crimea may have defected to the Russians.

“A corridor will be created in order to pull out our troops,” Rozmaznin said, adding that the retreating troops will cross the two slender isthmuses that link Crimea to the Ukrainian mainland. Negotiations were still ongoing about whether the troops would redeploy with their weaponry, he said.

He was vague about how long the redeployment could take but said the goal was to retreat without “fighting or using weapons.”

Moscow says its absorption of Crimea is legitimate after a referendum earlier this month in which the vast majority of residents approved the move, but the process has come under sustained criticism from the international community.

Crimea had been part of Russia for centuries until 1954, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to his native Ukraine. The move mattered little until the 1991 Soviet collapse made Ukraine independent. Many residents on Crimea appeared genuinely happy about rejoining Russia, although the vote did take place only after Russian-led troops seized control of the region.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Crimea on Monday to inspect the Black Sea Fleet, which has been stationed there under an a deal with Ukraine that allowed Moscow to have up to 25,000 troops in the peninsula.

Shoigu met with Ukrainian servicemen, explaining the benefits they will have if they join the Russian military.

He also named the former head of Ukraine’s navy, Denis Berezovsky, as deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet. Berezovsky was appointed commander of Ukraine’s navy on March 1, only to surrender the country’s base in Sevastopol to pro-Russian forces a day later. Authorities in Kiev have charged him with treason.

In Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chaired a meeting on providing economic aid to Crimea, promising that residents would continue receiving pensions and subsidies even after the region switches to the Russian ruble.

The West has leveled a raft of sanctions against Russia for its moves in Crimea and Russia has responded by barring entry to nine U.S. officials and lawmakers. On Monday it also slapped an entry ban on 13 Canadian lawmakers and officials for that country’s sanctions.

In Moscow, some restaurants mocked the U.S. sanctions, posting signs saying they have banned Obama from their premises.

Leonard reported from Kiev. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

DONUZLAV, Crimea (AP) — Ukraine’s fledgling government ordered troops to pull back Monday from Crimea, ending days of wavering as Russian forces stormed and seized bases on the peninsula. Bystanders mocked some retreating sailors as “rats” fleeing a sinking ship.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed Crimea last week, Russian forces have raised the heat on the Ukrainian military on the Black Sea peninsula, seizing their ships and breaking into walled military installations with armored personnel carriers.

Tired of weeks of tension and uncertainty, some Ukrainian troops were already leaving, including the crew of the navy ship Konstantin Olshanskiy in the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea.

The Ukrainian sailors, using a small rubber boat that needed several trips to ferry them to land, were greeted by hecklers on the shore. One man shouted they were “rats” fleeing a ship, while another man blasted the Russian national anthem from his car.

“We aren’t rats, we aren’t running,” said one sailor, who only gave his first name of Yevgeny to discuss a sensitive subject. “Why should we have stayed, what would we have accomplished?”

At a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, two injured servicemen were taken captive Monday and as many as 80 were detained at the site, Ukrainian officials said.

With the storming of at least three military facilities in Crimea over the past three days – and the decision by some Ukrainian troops to stay employed by switching to the Russian side – it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. The former chief of Ukraine’s navy, who was charged with treason after he swore allegiance to Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities and urged others to defect, was named a deputy chief of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchnynov, whose new government in Kiev has struggled to maintain control and cohesion, said the Defense Ministry was ordered to withdraw all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland.

Speaking to lawmakers in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, Turchnynov said Ukrainian troops would be evacuated with their families in response to threats from what he called occupying Russian forces.

The situation in Ukraine is expected to dominate President Barack Obama’s agenda as he begins a week of international travel. He arrived in the Netherlands on Monday to attend a nuclear security summit but the event was overshadowed by hurriedly scheduled talks on Ukraine among the Group of Seven industrialized economies – the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

“We’re united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far,” Obama said.

The interim government in Kiev has been criticized for its indecision over what outmanned Ukrainian troops in Crimea should do in the face of overwhelming Russian military might. Over the weekend, Russian troops stormed the Belbek air force base near Sevastopol and detained its commander. Last week, they trapped Ukrainian navy warships by sinking some vessels to block the port’s entrance.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that it has registered an increase in Russian troops in Crimea and seen large amounts of Russian forces bordering the mainland.

“The number of Russian armed forces on Crimean territory has risen over 22,000,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevgeny Perebiynis was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

The Ukrainian military declined to specify the precise number of soldiers on Crimea before its annexation. But Oleksandr Rozmaznin, deputy chief of operations for Ukraine’s armed forces, said Monday around half the troops in Crimea may have defected to the Russians.

“A corridor will be created in order to pull out our troops,” Rozmaznin said, adding that the retreating troops will cross the two slender isthmuses that link Crimea to the Ukrainian mainland. Negotiations were still ongoing about whether the troops would redeploy with their weaponry, he said.

He was vague about how long the redeployment could take but said the goal was to retreat without “fighting or using weapons.”

Moscow says its absorption of Crimea is legitimate after a referendum earlier this month in which the vast majority of residents approved the move, but the process has come under sustained criticism from the international community.

Crimea had been part of Russia for centuries until 1954, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to his native Ukraine. The move mattered little until the 1991 Soviet collapse made Ukraine independent. Many residents on Crimea appeared genuinely happy about rejoining Russia, although the vote did take place after Russian-led troops seized control of the region.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Crimea on Monday to inspect the Black Sea Fleet, which has been stationed there under an a deal with Ukraine that allowed Moscow to have up to 25,000 troops in the peninsula.

Shoigu met with Ukrainian servicemen, explaining the benefits they will have if they join the Russian military.

He also named the former head of Ukraine’s navy, Denis Berezovsky, as deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet. Berezovsky was appointed commander of Ukraine’s navy on March 1, only to surrender the country’s base in Sevastopol to pro-Russian forces a day later. Authorities in Kiev have charged him with treason.

In Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chaired a meeting on providing economic aid to Crimea, promising that residents will continue receiving pensions and subsidies even after the region switches to the Russian ruble.

The West has leveled a raft of sanctions against Russia for its moves in Crimea and Russia has responded by barring entry to nine U.S. officials and lawmakers. On Monday it also slapped an entry ban on 13 Canadian lawmakers and officials for that country’s sanctions.

In Moscow, some restaurants mocked the U.S. sanctions, posting signs saying they have banned Obama from their premises.

Mills reported from Donuzlav, Crimea. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

DONUZLAV, Crimea (AP) — Ukraine’s fledgling government ordered troops to pull back Monday from Crimea, ending days of wavering as Russian forces stormed and seized bases on the peninsula. Bystanders mocked some retreating sailors as “rats” fleeing a sinking ship.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed Crimea last week, Russian forces have raised the heat on the Ukrainian military on the Black Sea peninsula, seizing their ships and breaking into walled military installations with armored personnel carriers.

Tired of weeks of tension and uncertainty, some Ukrainian troops were already leaving, including the crew of the navy ship Konstantin Olshanskiy in the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea.

The Ukrainian sailors, using a small rubber boat that needed several trips to ferry them to land, were greeted by hecklers on the shore. One man shouted they were “rats” fleeing a ship, while another man blasted the Russian national anthem from his car.

“We aren’t rats, we aren’t running,” said one sailor, who only gave his first name of Yevgeny to discuss a sensitive subject. “Why should we have stayed, what would we have accomplished?”

At a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, two injured servicemen were taken captive Monday and as many as 80 were detained at the site, Ukrainian officials said.

With the storming of at least three military facilities in Crimea over the past three days – and the decision by some Ukrainian troops to stay employed by switching to the Russian side – it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. The former chief of Ukraine’s navy, who was charged with treason after he swore allegiance to Crimea’s pro-Russian authorities and urged others to defect, was named a deputy chief of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.

Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr Turchnynov, whose new government in Kiev has struggled to maintain control and cohesion, said the Defense Ministry was ordered to withdraw all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland.

Speaking to lawmakers in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, Turchnynov said Ukrainian troops would be evacuated with their families in response to threats from what he called occupying Russian forces.

The situation in Ukraine is expected to dominate President Barack Obama’s agenda as he begins a week of international travel. He arrived in the Netherlands on Monday to attend a nuclear security summit but the event was overshadowed by hurriedly scheduled talks on Ukraine among the Group of Seven industrialized economies – the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

“We’re united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far,” Obama said.

The interim government in Kiev has been criticized for its indecision over what outmanned Ukrainian troops in Crimea should do in the face of overwhelming Russian military might. Over the weekend, Russian troops stormed the Belbek air force base near Sevastopol and detained its commander. Last week, they trapped Ukrainian navy warships by sinking some vessels to block the port’s entrance.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said Monday that it has registered an increase in Russian troops in Crimea and seen large amounts of Russian forces bordering the mainland.

“The number of Russian armed forces on Crimean territory has risen over 22,000,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevgeny Perebiynis was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

The Ukrainian military declined to specify the precise number of soldiers on Crimea before its annexation. But Oleksandr Rozmaznin, deputy chief of operations for Ukraine’s armed forces, said Monday around half the troops in Crimea may have defected to the Russians.

“A corridor will be created in order to pull out our troops,” Rozmaznin said, adding that the retreating troops will cross the two slender isthmuses that link Crimea to the Ukrainian mainland. Negotiations were still ongoing about whether the troops would redeploy with their weaponry, he said.

He was vague about how long the redeployment could take but said the goal was to retreat without “fighting or using weapons.”

Moscow says its absorption of Crimea is legitimate after a referendum earlier this month in which the vast majority of residents approved the move, but the process has come under sustained criticism from the international community.

Crimea had been part of Russia for centuries until 1954, when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred it to his native Ukraine. The move mattered little until the 1991 Soviet collapse made Ukraine independent. Many residents on Crimea appeared genuinely happy about rejoining Russia, although the vote did take place after Russian-led troops seized control of the region.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Crimea on Monday to inspect the Black Sea Fleet, which has been stationed there under an a deal with Ukraine that allowed Moscow to have up to 25,000 troops in the peninsula.

Shoigu met with Ukrainian servicemen, explaining the benefits they will have if they join the Russian military.

He also named the former head of Ukraine’s navy, Denis Berezovsky, as deputy commander of the Black Sea Fleet. Berezovsky was appointed commander of Ukraine’s navy on March 1, only to surrender the country’s base in Sevastopol to pro-Russian forces a day later. Authorities in Kiev have charged him with treason.

In Moscow, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev chaired a meeting on providing economic aid to Crimea, promising that residents will continue receiving pensions and subsidies even after the region switches to the Russian ruble.

The West has leveled a raft of sanctions against Russia for its moves in Crimea and Russia has responded by barring entry to nine U.S. officials and lawmakers. On Monday it also slapped an entry ban on 13 Canadian lawmakers and officials for that country’s sanctions.

In Moscow, some restaurants mocked the U.S. sanctions, posting signs saying they have banned Obama from their premises.

Mills reported from Donuzlav, Crimea. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.

Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s fledgling government ordered troops to withdraw from Crimea on Monday, ending days of wavering as Russian troops consolidate control over the peninsula.

Russian forces have been systematically seizing Ukrainian ships and military installations in Crimea, including a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, where two wounded servicemen were taken captive on Monday and as many as 80 were detained on-site, Ukrainian officials said.

With the storming of at least three military facilities over the past three days alone, it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. Acting President Oleksandr Turchnynov said the Defense Ministry was instructed to redeploy all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland, in remarks confirmed by his office.

The situation in Ukraine is set to dominate U.S. President Barack Obama’s agenda as he begins a week of international travel in the Netherlands, where is set to attend a nuclear security summit. The two-day summit has been expected to be the focus of Obama’s visit, but the event will now be overshadowed by hurriedly scheduled talks on Ukraine among the Group of Seven industrialized economies – the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Speaking to leading lawmakers in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, Turchnynov said Ukrainian troops would be evacuated with their families amid unspecified threats from what he termed occupying Russian forces.

Over the weekend, Russian forces stormed the Belbek air force base near Sevastopol and detained the commander.

The interim government in Kiev has been criticized for its indecision over Ukrainian troops in Crimea.

Russia completed its annexation of Crimea last week, after its troops took control over the Ukrainian region following the ouster of a Kremlin-friendly government in Kiev.

Moscow says its absorption of Crimea has been rendered legitimate by a referendum held earlier this month in which the bulk of voters in the peninsula approved the move, but the process has come under sustained criticism from the international community.

The West has leveled a raft of sanctions against Russia for its moves in Crimea that have been hailed by some, but criticized as not going far enough by others.

Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s fledgling government ordered troops to withdraw from Crimea on Monday, ending days of wavering as Russian troops consolidate control over the peninsula.

Russian forces have been systematically seizing Ukrainian ships and military installations in Crimea, including a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, where two wounded servicemen were taken captive on Monday and as many as 80 were detained on-site, Ukrainian officials said.

With the storming of at least three military facilities over the past three days alone, it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. Acting President Oleksandr Turchnynov said the Defense Ministry was instructed to redeploy all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland, in remarks confirmed by his office.

The situation in Ukraine is set to dominate U.S. President Barack Obama’s agenda as he begins a week of international travel in the Netherlands, where is set to attend a nuclear security summit. The two-day summit has been expected to be the focus of Obama’s visit, but the event will now be overshadowed by hurriedly scheduled talks on Ukraine among the Group of Seven industrialized economies – the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Speaking to leading lawmakers in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, Turchnynov said Ukrainian troops would be evacuated with their families amid unspecified threats from what he termed occupying Russian forces.

Over the weekend, Russian forces stormed the Belbek air force base near Sevastopol and detained the commander.

The interim government in Kiev has been criticized for its indecision over Ukrainian troops in Crimea.

Russia completed its annexation of Crimea last week, after its troops took control over the Ukrainian region following the ouster of a Kremlin-friendly government in Kiev.

Moscow says its absorption of Crimea has been rendered legitimate by a referendum held earlier this month in which the bulk of voters in the peninsula approved the move, but the process has come under sustained criticism from the international community.

The West has leveled a raft of sanctions against Russia for its moves in Crimea that have been hailed by some, but criticized as not going far enough by others.

Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea

KDWN

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s fledgling government ordered troops to withdraw from Crimea on Monday, ending days of wavering as Russian troops consolidate control over the peninsula.

Russian forces have been systematically seizing Ukrainian ships and military installations in Crimea, including a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, where two wounded servicemen were taken captive on Monday and as many as 80 were detained on-site, Ukrainian officials said.

With the storming of at least three military facilities over the past three days alone, it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula. Acting President Oleksandr Turchnynov said the Defense Ministry was instructed to redeploy all servicemen in Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland, in remarks confirmed by his office.

The situation in Ukraine is set to dominate U.S. President Barack Obama’s agenda as he begins a week of international travel in the Netherlands, where is set to attend a nuclear security summit. The two-day summit has been expected to be the focus of Obama’s visit, but the event will now be overshadowed by hurriedly scheduled talks on Ukraine among the Group of Seven industrialized economies – the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Speaking to leading lawmakers in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, Turchnynov said Ukrainian troops would be evacuated with their families amid unspecified threats from what he termed occupying Russian forces.

Over the weekend, Russian forces stormed the Belbek air force base near Sevastopol and detained the commander.

The interim government in Kiev has been criticized for its indecision over Ukrainian troops in Crimea.

Russia completed its annexation of Crimea last week, after its troops took control over the Ukrainian region following the ouster of a Kremlin-friendly government in Kiev.

Moscow says its absorption of Crimea has been rendered legitimate by a referendum held earlier this month in which the bulk of voters in the peninsula approved the move, but the process has come under sustained criticism from the international community.

The West has leveled a raft of sanctions against Russia for its moves in Crimea that have been hailed by some, but criticized as not going far enough by others.