Ukraine recalls troops in Crimea
Updated: 2014-03-25 07:50
Ukrainian marines say farewell before departing Crimea outside a Ukrainian military base in the Crimean port city of Feodosia March 24, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
Russian forces have been systematically taking control of Ukrainian ships and military installations in Crimea, including a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, where two wounded servicemen were captured on Monday and as many as 80 were detained, The Associated Press quoted Ukrainian officials as saying.
Crimean militia forces will be transformed into a national guard, a senior local security official said, expressing confidence that hostilities were over.
The militia, denounced by the Western-backed government in Kiev, accompanied Russian troops in recent days in taking over military facilities in the region, according to Reuters.
Vladimir Mertsalov, one of the first to join the force and now a security adviser to Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov, said the region was now safe.
"That was wartime, but now the crisis requiring arms and forced interventions is over," said the former military officer. "I see no major threats anymore. I took my flak jacket off and put on my suit."
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Monday that he considers it necessary to create a special economic zone in Crimea.
"Settling the current problems, we should also think of the long-term development prospects for Crimea. We'll have to give additional preferences to Russia's new regions. I also believe it is necessary to consider the issue of the creation of a special economic zone in Crimea," Medvedev said at a special meeting on socioeconomic support for Crimea, according to ITAR-Tass.
He added that wages in Crimea will be raised to the average level of salaries in Russia.
Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchnynov said the Defense Ministry was instructed to pull back all personnel in Crimea, his office confirmed.
Speaking to leading lawmakers in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, Turchnynov said Ukrainian troops would be evacuated with their families.
The interim government in Kiev has been criticized for its indecision over the troops in Crimea.