KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine's government said Wednesday that 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.
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.