On Tuesday, the Ukrainian parliament voted to dismiss acting Defense Minister, Ihor Tenyukh over his handing of the Russian annexation of Crimea as some lawmakers criticized him for allowing the region to fall into Russian hands without a fight. Ihor Palits, an independent lawmaker said in a televised address to parliament said, “When [the Russian aggression] began, we had more troops in Crimea than Russia.” He went on to say, “Why didn’t the defense minister at that moment give an order to open fire…”
“Knowing that someone does not like what I did as acting Defense Minister, as well as due to disagreements in the issues that were offered from the first day until present regarding the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, I am handing in my resignation.” Tenyukh said.
Tenyukh was the acting Defense Minister when unmarked troops, which the west deemed as Russian soldiers, surrounded Ukrainian bases inside Crimea earlier this month. Ukrainian news agency, Ukrinform confirmed Tuesday that Tenyukh handed in his resignation as thousands of Ukrainian troops withdrew from Crimea.
According to Tenyukh, 4,300 Ukrainian servicemen and 2,200 family members had asked to leave Crimea and planned on staying in the Ukrainian military out of the 18,000 stationed in the Black Sea peninsula. Between Saturday and Monday, Russian military forces and pro-Russian forces captured what was left of Ukraine’s military bases in the region.
Ukrainian acting President, Oleksandr Turchynov ordered the withdraw of Ukrainian troops stationed in the newly Russian annexed region of Crimea. “They will be returning proudly with raised flags and their weapons,” said newly appointed Defense Minister, Col.-Gen. Mykhailo Koval.
However, according to Dimitri Peskov, a spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, that might not be the case. “Ukraine’s military who want to leave Crimea for Ukraine can freely leave the territory of Crimea, but it will be up the Russian Defense Ministry whether they will do it with or without their arms,” Peskov said Tuesday.
The first Ukrainian soldiers to leave Crimea were identified as the 80th Airborne who did leave in their armored vehicles with their weapons and unit flag in toe. However, out of the 600 Ukrainian marines stationed at Feodosiya, which was seized by Russian forces Monday, the 140 who did chose to leave did so without their arms, and were escorted by Russian troops on Russian busses according to televised remarks made by their deputy unit commander, Volodymyr Boronyuk.
In a phone interview with the Los Angeles Times, political scientist Vadim Karasyov, who is the head of the Institute of Global Strategies, said that the resignation of Tenyukh and appointment of a new Defense Minister suggested that the new Ukrainian government was looking for someone to blame for the events in Crimea and the Russian annexation thereof.
The Ukrainian secretary of Nation Security and Defense Council Andriy Parubiy said in an interview that while mistakes have been made, the new government in Ukraine is not afraid to fix them.
“Now is the time to speak to truth to society. This is the only way to make the government stronger.” he said.
By Nathaniel Pownell