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Ukraine Orders Pullout From Crimea
By Harold Hutchison

The Ukrainian government has ordered military forces to pull out of the autonomous republic of the Crimea as the Russian Duma formally approved the annexation of the Ukrainian territory.

According to media reports, the decision came as Barack Obama announced the United States would not be carrying out any “military excursion” in the Ukraine. This comes as Russians seized at least two warships that belonged to the Ukrainian Navy. The warships were identified as the Grisha-class light frigate Lutsk and the Pauk-class corvette Khmelnytskyi. The Krivak III-class frigate Hetman Sahaydachniy reportedly defected to Russia after Viktor Yanukovych was removed from power.

In response to an initial round of American sanctions against eleven individuals, Russia imposed sanctions on a number of American officials, including Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) as well as Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH). McCain was defiant, saying, “I will never cease my efforts on behalf of the freedom, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea.” Russia also began to wage economic warfare against Lithuania, which spoke out against Putin’s Crimean land grab, by declaring a blockade against the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda.

Ukraine has said it will carry out exercises with the United States and United Kingdom, and has also begun measures to pull out of the Commonwealth of Independent States.