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Updated: Thu, 20 Mar 2014 04:31:38 GMT | By The Associated Press, cbc.ca

Ukraine naval commander freed by Russian forces



An armed man, believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands guard outside a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean city of Simferopol, March 19, 2014. Three Russian flags were flying at an entrance to Ukraine's naval headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Wednesday, witnesses said, as pro-Russian forces took control of at least some of the base without armed resistance. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (© UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)

An armed man, believed to be a Russian serviceman, stands guard outside a Ukrainian military base in Perevalnoye, near the Crimean city of Simferopol, March 19, 2014. Three Russian flags were flying at an entrance to Ukraine's naval headquarters in the Crimean port of Sevastopol on Wednesday, witnesses said, as pro-Russian forces took control of at least some of the base without armed resistance. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov (UKRAINE - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY) - RTR3HOZA Shamil Zhumatov/Reuters

Ukraine's acting president says the commander of the country's navy has been freed after being held by Russian forces and local Crimean militia at the navy's headquarters.

Rear Adm. Sergei Haiduk and an unspecified number of civilians were held for hours after the navy's base in Sevastopol was stormed Wednesday. Early reports said the storming was conducted by a self-described local defense force, but the statement by President Oleksandr Turchynov on Thursday said Russian forces were involved.

The statement said Haiduk and the civilians were released, but did not give details.

The storming came hours before Ukraine announced plans to withdraw troops from Crimea, which was formally annexed by Russia this week. The annexation is widely regarded abroad as illegitimate.

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