Ukraine: Crimean parliament declares peninsula a 'NATO-free territory'

The Marines came to refurbish a Ukrainian training facility, slated to be used in mid-July maneuvers involving numerous NATO countries.

The Crimean vote follows similar votes by smaller cities and districts on the peninsula, which is home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet and many ethnic Russians.

Yushchenko noted that Ukraine currently has the same relations with NATO as Russia, which is also a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. But Yushchenko has made it a priority to join NATO, and is insisting that the parties who form the new governing coalition should commit to this goal, according to the AP.

The U.S. Marines, who expected to be gone by the time the exercises begin, are currently biding their time in a Defense Ministry resort while the government works out the legalities of their presence on Ukrainian soil.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team