Ukraine making plans to pull troops from Crimea

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Unarmed members of Pro-Russian self-defense forces, left, force themselves through a chain of Ukrainian military men at the Ukrainian Navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, Wednesday, March 19, 2014. An Associated Press photographer said several hundred militiamen took down the gate and made their way onto the base. They then raised the Russian flag on the square by the headquarters. The unarmed militia waited for an hour in the square before the move to storm the headquarters. Following the arrival of the commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet, the Crimeans took over the building. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

Unarmed members of Pro-Russian self-defense forces, left, force themselves through a chain of Ukrainian military men at the Ukrainian Navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, Wednesday, March 19, 2014. An Associated Press photographer said several hundred militiamen took down the gate and made their way onto the base. They then raised the Russian flag on the square by the headquarters. The unarmed militia waited for an hour in the square before the move to storm the headquarters. Following the arrival of the commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet, the Crimeans took over the building. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

Pro-Russian self-defense force members get through an entrance to the Ukrainian Navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, Wednesday, March 19, 2014. An Associated Press photographer said several hundred militiamen took down the gate and made their way onto the base. They then raised the Russian flag in the square by the headquarters. The unarmed militia waited for an hour on the square before the move to storm the headquarters. Following the arrival of the commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet, the Crimeans took over the building. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

Ukrainian soldiers fold the Ukrainian flag, which was removed by a Crimean pro- Russian self-defense force at the Ukrainian Navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, Wednesday, March 19, 2014. An Associated Press photographer said several hundred militiamen took down the gate and made their way onto the base. They then raised the Russian flag on the square by the headquarters. The unarmed militia waited for an hour on the square before the move to storm the headquarters. Following the arrival of the commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet, the Crimeans took over the building. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

Members of a Pro-Russian self-defense force remove a Ukrainian Navy flag, left, as the other removes the Ukrainian flag at the Ukrainian Navy headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, Wednesday, March 19, 2014. An Associated Press photographer said several hundred militiamen took down the gate and made their way onto the base. They then raised the Russian flag in the square by the headquarters. The unarmed militia waited for an hour on the square before the move to storm the headquarters. Following the arrival of the commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet, the Crimeans took over the building. (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)

In this photo taken on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, workers remove old letters from the Crimea Parliament’s building in Simferopol, Crimea. In a gilded Kremlin hall used by czars, Vladimir Putin redrew Russia’s borders Tuesday by declaring the Crimean Peninsula part of the motherland – provoking a surge of emotion among Russians who lament the loss of empire and denunciations from Western leaders who called Putin a threat to the world. (AP Photo/Alexander Khitrov)

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KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukraine’s government said Wednesday it has begun drawing up plans to pull its troops from Crimea, where Russia is steadily taking formal control as its armed forces seize military installations across the disputed peninsula.

In a warning to Moscow, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden declared the United States will respond to any aggression against its NATO allies, which include neighbors to Russia.

Standing side by side with a pair of Baltic leaders in Vilnius, Lithuania, Biden said the U.S. was “absolutely committed” to defending its allies, adding that President Barack Obama plans to seek concrete commitments from NATO members to ensure the alliance can safeguard its collective security.

“Russia cannot escape the fact that the world is changing and rejecting outright their behavior,” Biden said, after meeting in Vilnius with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Latvian President Andris Berzins.

Ukraine’s military, which is heavily outnumbered in Crimea, has come under increased pressure since the region was nominally incorporated into Russia on Tuesday. National Security and Defense Council secretary Andriy Parubiy said Ukraine will seek U.N. support to turn Crimea into a demilitarized zone as it seeks to relocate armed forces to the mainland.

Earlier Wednesday, masked Russian-speaking troops seized control over Ukraine’s naval headquarters in the city of Sevastopol. A Ukrainian navy commander was also detained during that operation.

The several hundred militiamen who captured the base in Sevastopol met no resistance. Sevastopol is also the home port of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and tens of thousands of Russian-led troops are now patrolling Crimea.

It came a day after a confrontation between Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Russian militia left two dead.

The Russian-speaking troops, who arrived on the base after the storming, wore helmets, flak jackets and uniforms with no identifying insignia. By afternoon, they were in full control of the naval headquarters, a set of three-story boxy white concrete buildings with blue trim. It was not immediately clear how many, if any, Ukrainian servicemen remained on the base.

Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said no one was injured in the raid, which it said was led by pro-Russian militiamen and Cossacks.

The ministry said in its statement that Rear Adm. Sergei Haiduk was detained by unknown people after the storming of the fleet headquarters. The Russian state ITAR-Tass news agency reported that he was being questioned by Crimean prosecutors.

Ukraine’s defense minister and deputy prime minister had planned to travel to Crimea on Wednesday in what they said was a bid to avert an escalation in hostilities.

The prime minister in Crimea warned after the announcement of their departure that

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