Ukraine Gives Up on Crimea, Pulls Troops
Thousands being relocated to mainland
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2014 5:12 PM CDT
Crimean forces stand outside a naval facility in Sevastopol that belonged to Ukraine prior to today.   (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

(Newser) – It looks like Vladimir Putin's swift annexation of Crimea will be a largely peaceful one, too. Ukraine is pulling all of its troops and their families out of the peninsula and relocating them on the mainland, reports the Guardian. The announcement by the government "effectively amounted to a surrender of Crimea, at least from a military standpoint," says the New York Times account of the move. Not that it was a huge surprise: Hours earlier, Russia-backed forces seized two more naval bases without a fight and even detained the head of Ukraine's navy in Sevastopol, reports the BBC.

“We had no order and no weapons," said one Ukraine soldier in Sevastopol when asked why there was no resistance. He and others were seen gathering up personal belongings and streaming off the base. Meanwhile, UN chief Ban Ki-moon is on his way to Kiev and Moscow for meetings tomorrow and Friday with Putin and others, reports the AP. The meetings come as the international community weighs its next steps on how to penalize Russia. In a speech in Washington, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the situation in Crimea "the gravest threat to European security and stability since the end of the Cold War."