Ukraine announced the pullout of its troops from Crimea after Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula and took control most of the military bases there. The decision comes as President Obama arrived in the Netherlands on Monday for a summit of the G7 group of industrialized nations that is certain to focus on discussion of the international crisis.
Oleksandr Turchnynov said Monday that the Defense Ministry has been ordered to redeploy Ukrainian servicemen from the Crimea to Ukraine’s mainland, in remarks confirmed by his office.
The BBC says the announcement “came shortly after Russian troops captured the naval base at Feodosia, the third such takeover in 48 hours.”
Meanwhile, NPR’s Gregory Warner reports that thousands of Russian supporters in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk had rallied to call for dividing the country into semi-autonomous regions, allowing the east to have closer ties with Moscow.
Reporting from Donetsk, Gregory tells Morning Edition:
“President Putin said he has no plans to send his military into mainland Ukraine, at the same time as Russia amasses thousands of troops and heavy artillery on the Crimean border with the mainland.
“The United States has noted a massive buildup of Russian troops on the Crimean border, a border that wasn’t even a border several weeks ago. Now that Russian troops have basically occupied Crimea, the great fear is that they will go further.”
Meanwhile in the Netherlands, Obama spoke following a meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and said the two nations were “united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far” in Crimea.
Rutte said Russia’s aggression in Crimea represents “a flagrant breach” of international law.
“The presence of so many international leaders in the Netherlands this week presents an important opportunity for the international community to discuss this subject as well as other pressing issues that affect our common interest,” the prime minister said.
The two-day nuclear summit in The Hague had been scheduled long before Russia’s incursion into Crimea, but as The Associated Press reports: “The headline event Monday is a Ukraine-focused, hurriedly scheduled meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized economies — the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.”
Update at 12:15 p.m. ET. British PM: No G8 Summit In Russia
British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that he wanted to make “absolutely clear” that there would be no G8 summit in Sochi in June, as had been scheduled.
“We should be clear there’s not going to be a G8 summit this year in Russia,” he said at The Hague, referring to the summit that had been planned for the same venue as the recently concluded Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met troops and inspected bases in Crimea.
Reuters says that Shoigu “also rewarded the former head of Ukraine’s navy, Rear Admiral Denys Berezovsky, who was one of few Ukrainian officers to switch allegiances before Moscow formally annexed the peninsula, with the deputy command of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet.”