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Ukraine severs key ties with Russia over Crimea

Ukraine severs key ties with Russia over Crimea

Published on Mar 20, 2014 5:31 AM

KIEV (AFP) - Ukraine announced plans Wednesday to drop out of a key post-Soviet alliance and slap entry visas on Russians while also preparing for a possible Crimean withdrawal following the Kremlin's absorption of the peninsula.

Kiev's first firm response to Russia's claim to the strategic Black Sea peninsula came as a deadline expired on an ultimatum set by the acting president for Crimea's separatist leaders to release the captured head of the Ukrainian navy or face "an adequate response".

The spiralling crisis prompted the White House to warn Russia it was "creating a dangerous situation" and the NATO commander to call the Kremlin's seizure of Crimea "the gravest threat to European security and stability since the end of the Cold War".

Germany for its part said it was suspending a major arms deal with Moscow - a signal that Washington's EU allies were willing to take more serious punitive steps against the Kremlin despite their heavy dependence on Russian energy supplies.

A Ukrainian officer leaves as Russian soldiers stand guard after they took control of the Ukrainian navy south headquarters base in Novoozerne on March 19, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP 
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