Ukraine Closes Border with Crimea

MOSCOW, March 23 (RIA Novosti) – Ukrainian border guards closed the exit from the Republic of Crimea, local authorities said on Saturday.

The office of the Crimean Federal District, which was established by President Vladimir Putin on Friday, said that even Ukrainian servicemen who wanted to leave Crimea could not cross the border.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, only 2,000 out of 18,000 Ukrainian troops serving in Crimea decided to leave the peninsula.

“The obvious purpose of this provocation is to accuse the Crimean authorities of not letting people out and create tensions in the border area,” the office of the Crimean Federal District said.

Putin signed a decree on Friday to ratify the treaty providing for the reunification of the Crimean Peninsula with Russia.

Leaders in the predominantly Russian-ethnic republic refused to recognize the legitimacy of the government in Kiev that came to power amid often violent protests last month, instead seeking reunification with Russia.

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