In another twist of the volatile plot in Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has axed its defense minister, Igor Tenyukh, over his handling of the Crimea Crisis. He has been replaced by the now acting defense minister, Gen. Mykhaylo Koval.
In response to harsh criticism that Tenyukh was slow and indecisive to respond to Russia’s forced entry into the peninsula, the former minister announced that he would be stepping down. Experts suggest that this move is more of a formality than anything as Tenyukh’s resignation was more of a forced exit from his position.
Critics argue that his response to the incident was weak overall and that Tenyukh failed as Ukraine’s defense minister as he, well, failed to defend much of anything against the Russians. His slow responses were cited as proof of ineptitude and the withdrawal of Ukrainian troops from Crimea was the proverbial last straw for Tenyukh’s career.
However, many have noted that Tenyukh’s reservations may have ultimately served to save more of Ukraine than any other actions may have allowed. By not fighting the Russians, it has been argued by some that his more passive stance did not give Russia reason to annex even more of Ukrainian territory.
Furthermore, Tenyukh’s decision to have Ukrainian troops withdraw from the region was in fact at the request of many of the troops. Defenders of the former defense minister suggest that the patience and caution exercised was perhaps better for Ukraine in general.
Whether or not Tenyukh has been made into a scapegoat over the course of the crisis, he has nonetheless been axed and replaced for his inaction in the defense of Crimea. Minister Koval’s policies and positions remain relatively unknown as of now, however he had formerly served as chief of border troops in Crimea.
This is significant as Koval may perhaps be less moderate than his predecessor. With some 30,000 Russian troops amassed on Ukraine’s Eastern border according to American military estimates and some analysts suggesting that Crimea is just a fraction of what Putin intends on annexing, Koval appears as Tenyukh’s hawkish replacement to some. Still, this is yet to be seen.
Furthering that sentiment, some lawmakers in Ukraine have suggested that, as it stands now, Ukraine and Russia are in fact in a state of war. Yuriy Derevyanko, a member of Ukraine’s parliament who serves as an independent politically, stressed a need for decisive and unified leadership that can defend the Eastern European nation’s border with Russia.
Some are suggesting that Russia is on the verge of invading Ukraine along its East border. As evidenced by a recent build up in the region and a seemingly strategic arrangement of military assets to capture some major Ukrainian cities, experts warn that there may not be much more time before Russia engages in a full-fledged military conflict.
With Tenyukh being axed and replaced by a seemingly less dovish defense minister over the Crimea Crisis, it stands to reason that Ukraine stands defiantly against Russia. Some assume that the inaction in Ukraine was a mistake, and by all accounts, Ukraine does not appear willing to make that mistake again.
By Brett Byers-Lane