Is the Ukrainian military surrendering in the Crimea? According to the prime minister of Crimea, most Ukrainian military units had surrendered to Russian military forces. Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said that Ukrainian military units in the Crimea have pledged allegiance to his pro-Russian government, and that local officials were working quickly on a referendum on independence from Ukraine.
In Kiev, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry denied any assertion of defections. The Defense Ministry asserted that any information on defections is false. The Ukrainian military is in control of all their military posts. Over the weekend, the Ukrainian Navy’s chief of staff announced his defection. Some security installations that do not fall within the Defense Ministry now seem to be under the control of the Crimean authorities.
Surrender your warships or we will take them. That was the ultimatum from Moscow on Monday as the crisis in Crimea escalated and President Obama warned that Russia was on “the wrong side of history.” Four Russian Navy vessels had two Ukrainian ships boxed inside the Black Sea port of Sevastopol and were refusing to let them leave. Pro-Russian paramilitary seized buildings, airports and other facilities in Crimea, and demonstrations sprang up across the Ukrainian borders that are on Russia’s western frontier. The new Ukrainian government in Kiev denounced the Russian invasion, yet so far has refused to mobilize its military forces. Russian troops began appearing in the eastern Ukrainian border areas , and on Saturday the Duma or parliament approved Putin’s plea for military action.
Russia possesses a vast military majority over Ukraine with a military force of over 845,000 while compared to Ukraine’s military force of 130,000. Russia’s military budget of $78 billion dwarfs Ukraine’s military budget of $1.6 billion. Russia has nearly 1,000 attack helicopters compared to Ukraine’s grand total of four attack helicopters. Russia would have undisputed control of both land and sea with over 3,000 warplanes and 289 warships. Ukraine can only muster 27 warplanes and 21 warships. Ukraine fares slightly better with 4,400 armored vehicles compared to Russia’s nearly 28,000 armored vehicles.
Trouble erupted last weekend when Russian President Putin was given the green light by the Duma to dispatch troops to Ukraine. Not long after, paramilitary styles soldiers were seen all throughout the Crimean peninsula. It appears now the Russians possess all border posts on the Ukrainian border and military facilities within the Crimea.
Putin has claimed Russia needs to protect the large ethnic Russian populations in the Crimean peninsula. But there have been no reports of hostility toward pro-Russian speakers in Ukraine during the four-month upheaval that shook the pro-Russian President Yanukovych from power.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused an uproar as leaders of the Western World scramble to respond to Putin’s aggression. President Obama and Congress are currently considering economic sanctions and other measures that would isolate Russia. What does this all mean for Russia and Ukraine and the rest of the world. The question remains whether the Ukrainian military is surrendering in the Crimea or not. It is just a matter of who is asked.
By John J. Poltonowicz