Update as of 5:31 a.m. EDT: Oleksandr Turchinov, Ukraine's interim president, announced Monday that his government, faced with a threat "to the lives and health of our service personnel" and their families, had ordered the withdrawal of all its troops and an evacuation of their families, according to news reports.
"The National Defence and Security Council has instructed the Defence Ministry to carry out a re-deployment of military units in Crimea and carry out the evacuation of their families," Oleksandr Turchinov said Monday, Reuters reported.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense confirmed Monday's news reports stating that Russian troops in the Black Sea port city of Feodosia on the Crimean peninsula have captured nearly 80 men of a unit of the Ukrainian Navy.
A report released by Ukraine's defense ministry stated that Russian troops violated “the preliminary agreement to hold talks on a truce” and assaulted the Feodosia Marines battalion at their home base. Russian troops also reportedly used stun grenades and high-end weapons like machine guns during the attack, according to the statement, local news agency Interfax Ukraine reported.
"At around 0420 on March 24, Russian invaders in Crimea, grossly violating the preliminary agreement to hold talks on a truce, started assaulting the first separate Feodosia Marines battalion of the Ukrainian Navy. Russian troops landed from two Mi-8 helicopters on the territory of the Ukrainian military unit when the assault began. A pair of Russian Mi-24s supported the landing of the troops from the air," Interfax Ukraine reported, citing the ministry's press service.
The defense ministry also claimed that the Russian soldiers had not allowed medical assistance for the injured servicemen and that the captured men are being held captive by the Russian military at the Feodosia maritime port.
"Several URAL trucks, with tied up Ukrainian Marines on board, left the territory of the Marines battalion at 0600. According to preliminary reports, several Ukrainian servicemen sustained various injuries as a result of the assault. The most injured were the battalion's commander, Lieutenant Colonel Dmytro Deliatytsky, and his assistant on work with staff, Major Rostyslav Lomtev, whom the attackers pushed to the ground and kicked them in the face. After that the two Ukrainian officers were taken by helicopter to an unknown location," the report said, according to Interfax Ukraine.
The ministry reportedly stated that the Russian troops demanded that the Ukrainian military unit vacate Crimea, in return for the release of the servicemen captured by its troops.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly were satisfied with an arrangement allowing an independent mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, to be sent to monitor the situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin press service said Sunday, according to ITAR-TASS.
“The two sides discussed the situation after Crimea’s reunification with Russia and reaffirmed readiness for dialogue, including the one at the level of experts,” the press service reportedly said. According to a Kyiv Post report Monday, Ukraine has also demanded that the OSCE's mission be extended to include Crimea.
The situation in Crimea has drawn international attention, and given rise to geopolitical concerns, as Russia’s annexation of the region has led to a series of sanctions from the U.S., the European Union, or EU, and Japan. Crimea, which has a majority-Russian speaking population, belonged to Ukraine until pro-Moscow militia took control of the region following the ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Following days of diplomatic stand-off during which time Russian troops moved into Crimea, on Saturday, Putin signed a series of bills to make Russia's takeover of Crimea official.
President Barack Obama has also threatened to target major sectors of the Russian economy with its sanctions, to add to sanctions imposed last week against individual Russian officials and aides of Putin, if Russia did not move out of Crimea. Russia, in turn, announced that it would impose a sanction on U.S. officials, and that it does not consider the threat of sanctions from the U.S. and EU as worrisome.
And while the crisis has escalated, the Moscow Exchange (MCX:MOEX) has tumbled more than 13 percent, and lost nearly $70 billion of its value over the last one month.