Ukrainian government refuses to remove troops from Crimea, prepares for war: In the wake of a March 16 referendum in which Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation, Ukrainian leaders refused to cede any part of the peninsula, calling on their troops to prepare for war.
“Crimea was, is, and will be our territory,” said Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh in a statement delivered at the Ukrainian Crisis Media Center on March 17.
Former heavyweight boxing champion and leader of the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform Vitali Klitschko announced that Ukrainian troops would remain at their bases, even after March 21, the end of a peace treaty signed by the interior ministries of Ukraine and Russia.
In accordance with the March 16 peace treaty, the Russian Interior Ministry promised to allow Ukrainian soldiers to pass freely into and out of their bases, which Russian troops had surrounded for more than two weeks. Tenyukh said that the Russian military had thus far respected the terms of the treaty.