Ukraine orders troop pullout from Crimea
Russian troops forced their way into a Ukrainian marine base in the Crimean port city of Feodosia early on Monday. Ukrainian flags had been taken down from flagpoles inside the base.world Updated: Mar 24, 2014 20:57 IST
Ukraine's acting president announced on Monday that the ex-Soviet nation's troops have been given orders to withdraw from Crimea following the peninsula's seizure and annexation by Russia.
"The national security and defence council has reached a decision, under instructions from the defence ministry, to conduct a redeployment of military units stationed in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea," acting president Oleksandr Turchynov told a meeting of top lawmakers.
The Russian troops had forced their way into a Ukrainian marine base in the Crimean port city of Feodosia early on Monday, overrunning one of the few symbols of resistance left after Moscow wrestled the peninsula away from Kiev, defending soldiers inside said.
The Russians used stun grenades and fired automatic weapons as they charged in, a Ukrainian military official said. Ukrainian flags had been taken down from flagpoles inside the base.
Ukrainian army officer, First Lieutenant Anatoly Mozgovoy, told Reuters by phone from inside the compound that the Russians had fired shots and the Ukrainian soldiers were unarmed. Asked if the base had been taken over, he said: "Yes".
"The invading troops were using stun grenades and also firing automatic weapons. The interior of the compound is full of Russian troops," said Vladislav Seleznyov, a Ukrainian military spokesman in Crimea.
Russian forces had already captured part of the base, used by the 1st Separate Marine Battalion, Ukraine's top military unit, earlier this month.
But Ukrainians had previously appeared to be in control of the armoury, the barracks and other facilities in the compound.
Russia's seizure of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula of two million people with a narrow ethnic Russian majority, has been largely bloodless.
Moscow formally annexed Crimea on March 21 in a move not recognised by Kiev and the West, prompting sanctions on Russia over the Cold War-era style conflict.
To know all about Crimea crisis, click here.
(With inputs from Reuters and AFP)