Ukrainian President Orders Troops out of Crimea after Russia Captures Base
Oleksandr Turchnynov, Ukraine's interim president, ordered the removal of all Ukrainian troops from the Crimea peninsula as Russia seized one of the last bases in Feodosia on Monday.
Two soldiers were wounded and 80 detained when Russian troops captured the base.
Before Crimea voted on March 16th to leave Ukraine in favor of Russia, Ukraine vowed to protect land in the peninsula and said they would not withdraw any of their troops. But on March 17th, Russian troops and other pro-Russians began to target Ukrainian bases. One soldier was killed in Simferopol.
The new government received criticism when they could not decide how to handle the troops after Crimea was annexed. On March 19th, National Security and Defense Council Secretary Andriy Parubiy said the government would pull back troops to the mainland and ask the United Nations for help. This did not occur, however, and Russian forces continued to take over Ukrainian bases.
Turchnynov told the government that troops and their families would be pulled. He did not specify when and how the evacuation would take place.
According to the Kyiv Post, at 4:15 a.m. local time, Russian forces descended upon the base in Feodosia:
Two helicopters circled and hovered. There was machine-gun fire from the Russian side, and fists from the Ukrainian side. But the base was quickly taken by three Russian armored personnel carriers full of special-force troops. By then, there were 60-80 Ukrainian marine holdouts left at the base, out of a full complement of 300 marines.
However, the marines say their commander, Dmitry Delyatitsky, was taken from the base in a helicopter this morning and his whereabouts are still unknown.
By 5.30 a.m., the Russian flag was flying.
Smoke poured from a small fire on the front of the barracks.
Three large Russian trucks, packed with Ukrainian soldiers, left the base. It is not known where the trucks were headed. Civilians outside the base applauded and were happy to see the Ukrainians leave. They claim everything will be peaceful under Russia.