NOVOOZERNOE, Crimea — Ukraine’s fledgling government ordered troops to pull back Monday from Crimea, ending days of wavering as Russian forces stormed and seized bases on the peninsula. Bystanders mocked some retreating sailors as “rats” fleeing a sinking ship.

Since Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed Crimea last week, Russian forces have raised the heat on the Ukrainian military on the Black Sea peninsula, commandeering their ships and breaking into walled military installations with armored personnel carriers.

In the bay of Donuzlav in western Crimea, dozens of Ukrainian sailors marooned on the Konstantin Olshanskiy navy landing vessel abandoned ship Monday after weeks of tension and uncertainty.

The Olshanskiy and two other warships have been trapped in the bay since Russian forces scuttled mothballed ships at the bay’s inlet.

The sailors, using a small rubber boat that needed several trips to ferry them to land, were greeted by the taunts of hecklers on the shore.

One man shouted they were deserting “rats,” while another man blasted the Russian national anthem from his car.


“We aren’t rats, we aren’t running,” said one sailor, who only gave his first name of Yevgeny to discuss a sensitive subject. “Why should we have stayed, what would we have accomplished?” he asked.

Twenty out of the estimated 60 sailors originally on board remained on the ship, which was later in the day stormed by armed men, presumed to be Russian forces.

Defense Ministry spokesman Vladislav Seleznyov said the crew, which barricaded itself in the bulkhead, heard stun grenades and rifle fire.

At a naval base near the eastern Crimean port of Feodosia, two injured servicemen were taken captive earlier in the day and as many as 80 were detained at the site, Ukrainian officials said.

As tensions remained high in Crimea, President Obama and Western allies moved to purge Russia from the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations a few months before it was to host its summit.

In the Hague, where Obama arrived to attend a nuclear security summit, he met with leaders of the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations that includes the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan for talks on Ukraine.

“We’re united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far,” Obama said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared that the G-8 meeting set for the summer will not take place. The G-7 said they would meet instead in Brussels in June, without Russia.

With the storming of at least three military facilities in Crimea over the past three days – and the decision by some Ukrainian troops to stay employed by switching to the Russian side – it wasn’t clear how many Ukrainian troops remained on the peninsula.

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