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May 18, 2021

Ukraine orders Crimea troop withdrawal, Russia seizes naval base

Russian troops storm Crimea navy base. G7 group of industrialised countries is to consider a collective response to the crisis during talks in The Hague.

Interim Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchynov (photo) ordered the withdrawal of armed forces from Crimea on Monday, citing Russian threats to the lives of military staff and their families, CNN reports.
Russian troops have seized most of Ukraine’s bases in the peninsula, including a naval base at Feodosia on Monday. Russia annexed Crimea last week after a controversial referendum that Ukraine and the West say was illegal.
“The acting President of Ukraine has given an order to the Ukraine Defense Ministry for the withdrawal of all Ukrainian forces from Crimea,” a spokeswoman for Turchynov told CNN. The soldiers’ families will be evacuated as well.
Earlier, Russian troops stormed and seized the Ukrainian naval base in Feodosia, a port in Crimea, a Ukrainian Defence Ministry spokesman said. Witnesses said several Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters were involved in the raid. Between 60 and 80 Ukrainian troops were captured and taken from the base, said Vladislav Seleznev, a Ukrainian Defence Ministry spokesman in Crimea
Ukrainians had said they would leave the base if they were allowed to take their weapons with them.
Russian forces consolidated their control of the Black Sea peninsula over the weekend.
On Saturday, six Russian special forces armored personnel carriers broke through the gates of Belbek air base, firing warning shots into the air.
In a separate incident, pro-Russian self-defense forces stormed the Novofederoskoe military base, also in Crimea, taking control of it, a Ukraine Defense Ministry spokesman said.
The G7 group of industrialised countries is to consider a collective response to the crisis during talks in The Hague. G7 leaders are meeting on the sidelines of a long-planned summit on global threats to nuclear security, the BBC informs.
Speaking ahead of the talks, US President Barack Obama said Europe and America were united in their support of the Ukrainian government and its people.
Alongside Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Mr Obama said the US and Europe were also “united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions (in Ukraine) so far”.
NATO’s military commander in Europe warned on Sunday that Russian forces on Ukraine’s eastern borders were capable of mounting an operation all the way to Moldova.
Several parts of Crimea were hit by power cuts on Sunday evening, which officials blamed on technical problems.
Merkel tells Putin not to destabilize Moldova
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone conversation not to attempt to destabilize Moldova, her spokesman said Monday, wsj.com informs.
On Sunday, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s top military commander warned that Russia had a “very sizable” force on Ukraine’s eastern border that could easily pass through Ukraine to seize Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria.
During the phone call on Sunday between the two leaders, both Ms. Merkel and Mr. Putin welcomed the decision by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to deploy a special monitoring mission of international observers to Ukraine, Ms. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said at a regular government news conference in Berlin.

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