Ukrainian defense minister: Troops will remain in Crimea through March 21

After the Crimean referendum passed with 93 percent voting to join Russia, Ukraine and Western nations are trying to anticipate whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will annex the peninsula and extend Russian military presence into mainland Ukraine.
By Aileen Graef  |  March 17, 2014 at 9:13 AM
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Ukrainian Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh said in a press conference that Ukrainian troops will remain in the Crimean peninsula through March 21, as agreed in a truce with Russia.

"No one will leave Crimea, that's for sure," Tenyukh told reporters. "The situation regarding the blockade of our military bases has been normalized and I think it will remain like that until the March 21, as has been agreed in the truce."

In a briefing with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Tenyukh said that Russia has continued to increase its military presence to the number of 21,500 troops in what Tenyukh calls an effort to make the "so-called referendum" seem legitimate. He also added that despite the fact Russian troops have not advanced into the mainland, Russian provocations foreshadow military advancement into the mainland.

"We cannot rule out that in the northern, northeastern, and southern areas near the Ukrainian border operative tactical units of Russian troops are being created," Tenyukh said in the briefing. "Russian provocations keep happening in eastern and southern regions of Ukraine and they are aimed at creating the environment for a repetition of the Crimean scenario on the mentioned territories."


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