Editor’s Note: The following is an English-language translation of a small excerpt from Interfax-Ukraine news service’s interview with Ukrainian Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh on March 16.
Excerpts of Interfax-Ukraine news service’s onterview with Ukrainian Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh:
“Today, the combat readiness of the armed forces of Ukraine is kept in highest level to meet the threats that are taking place on the eastern borders and the Crimea. First of all, I want to say that the illegal referendum that is attempted to be held at gunpoint in the Crimea is not recognized by any country in the world. Moreover, it is not recognized by Ukrainian parliament, goverment and society.
“Therefore, soldiers who are in the Crimea will strictly follow the laws and statutes of the armed forces. And they will not leave because this is Ukrainian land. Further actions depend on decisions taken by the political leadership of the state.
“Russia must immediately withdraw its military troops out of Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet to their places of permanent deployment as it is backed by certain basic agreements between Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian navy headquarters was and is going to stay in Sevastopol. As for the National Guard, a few days ago, more than 40,000 people have already signed up and volunteered for the military commissariat.
“I am keeping in contact with the Russian defense minister. I called him several times and asked “What are your illegal armed troops doing on the territory of Crimea?” It was a “pleasure” to hear the response: “We know nothing, those are not our soldiers, we do not have any armed forces there.”
Funny to know it.
“When I specifically named brigades battalions numbers, military units, the reply came: “We will think about it.”
Of course, this is not considered to be an honest answer.
The same response was received by head of the general staff of Ukraine who was trying to contact with the head of the Russian general staff: “Our military is not based in Crimea, except the Black Sea Fleet.”