Ukraine Orders Troops to Withdraw from Crimea

World | March 24, 2014, Monday // 13:11
Bulgaria: Ukraine Orders Troops to Withdraw from Crimea Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea are reported to have either left the peninsula or joined Russian ranks, Photo by EPA/BGNES

Ukrainian troops in Crimea have been ordered to withdraw, the country's interim President said on Monday.

Russian threats to the lives of military staff and their families stand behind the decision, as Oleksandr Turchynov was quoted by the BBC as saying.

Turchynov explained the measure had been approved by the National Security and Defense Council, which stated that the soldiers' families should also be evacuated.

Russian agency RIA Novosti confirmed later that no Ukrainian troops remained on Crimean soil, as they had either left the peninsula or passed into the Russian army.

Hours earlier, Russian troops took over Ukraine's naval base near the city of Feodosia, thus gaining control of most or all of Kiev's military bases across the Crimean peninsula.

Russian defense officials quoted by the BBC have declared that Russia's flag is now waving at 189 military units and facilities across Crimea.

Last week, the EU and the US imposed sanctions to Russian and Crimean officials over the standoff on the Crimean peninsula, which officially broke away from Ukraine to become part of Russia.

Tensions heightened further in Europe on Sunday as NATO warned of a gathering of Russian soldiers on Ukraine's eastern borders that could carry out an operation all the way to Moldova.

NATO officials declared that the build-up of Russian troops constituted a threat to other post-Soviet states.

Emergency G7 talks are expected on Monday in the Netherlands, in which leaders of top economies are to discuss the crisis.

Russia, which was formerly part of the club known as G8 over the past decade and a half, was suspended over its involvement in Crimea.

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Tags: Turchynov, Ukraine, Crimea, Russia, Feodosia
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