All military units stationed in Crimea are now under the control of the Russian military, and remaining Ukrainian servicemen are departing the peninsula, the region’s first deputy prime minister, Rustam Temirgaliyev, said on Monday, March 24, 2014.
As Crimea’s reunification process began last week, a total of 147 military units in the predominantly Russian-ethnic region have replaced Ukrainian flags with Russian ones and applied to join the Russian armed forces.“All Ukrainian military personnel have either joined Russia or are leaving Crimea,” Temirgaliyev said.
Shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday to ratify the reunification treaty, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said those soldiers wishing to continue their service with the Ukrainian armed forces were free to leave Crimea and will receive the required assistance to do so.
The Russian Defense Ministry said over the weekend that only 2,000 out of 18,000 Ukrainian troops serving in Crimea decided to leave the peninsula.On Monday, Shoigu appointed the former head of Ukraine’s navy as deputy commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet during a visit to Crimea.
Rear Adm. Denis Berezovsky swore allegiance to the people of Crimea earlier this month two days after he had been appointed commander of the Ukrainian navy by the country’s Western-backed government.