Crimean Military Units to Join Russia

5The self-defense forces of Crimea that played a key role in securing the peninsula ahead of its reunification with Russia will be regularized and enter into the ranks of the Russian military, a member of Russia’s parliament said Friday.

2“After Crimea and Sevastopol join Russia the self-defense forces of Crimea should be reformed and become part of [Russia’s] Southern Military District,” said Vladimir Komoyedov, the chairman of the defense committee in Russia’s lower house of parliament.

Komoyedov, the former commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, stressed the changeover should be expedited given the mobilization of reserve troops in Ukraine and the need to guarantee Crimea’s security.

On Thursday it was reported over 70 Ukrainian military outfits stationed in Crimea, including 25 navy ships, had changed allegiances and raised the Russian flag.

Over 22,000 Ukrainian troops were stationed on the Black Sea peninsula prior to Crimea declaring independence following the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych amid often violent protests last month.

1Meantime a total of 72 military units in Crimea have hoisted Russian flags instead of Ukrainian and applied to join the Russian armed forces, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

“Yesterday, 72 military units almost in full strength decided to join the Russian armed forces. We are now dealing with service and citizenship issues of officers and soldiers from these units,” he said.

Shoigu said that every serviceman can choose from three options: continue his service in the Russian armed forces, end his service and stay in Crimea or leave the region.

Those willing to continue their service in the Ukrainian army will be provided with transport to carry their families and belongings to the Ukrainian territory.

1Leaders in the predominantly Russian-ethnic republic refused to recognize the legitimacy of the government in Kiev that came to power amid often violent protests last month, instead seeking reunification with Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to ratify the treaty providing for the reunification of the Crimean Peninsula with Russia.

3Moreover the St.Andrew’s flag of the Russian Navy was raised on Ukraine’s only submarine, the Zaporizhzhia, on March 22.

The Zaporizhzhia, commissioned in 1970, will join the Russian Black Sea Fleet, which previously had three submarines.

Captain 1st Rank Anatoly Varochkin, the commander of the Black Sea Fleet’s submarine flotilla, told RIA Novosti that half of the Zaporizhzhia’s crew, including the captain, refused to serve in the Russian Navy and left the vessel.

“Half of the submarine’s crew is ready to serve [Russia] and fulfill their tasks. They know their vessel and will continue service,” Varochkin said adding that the submarine was in a poor technical condition.

The submarine will be relocated to Yuzhnaya Bay where the Russian Black Sea is based.

4Leaders in the predominantly Russian-ethnic republic refused to recognize the legitimacy of the government in Kiev that came to power amid often violent protests last month, instead seeking reunification with Russia.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Crimea to inspect troops and military facilities, the first senior Russian official to travel to the Black Sea peninsula since Moscow absorbed the region into its territory, Russian news agencies said.

Shoigu, one of the closest allies of President Vladimir Putin in the cabinet, inspected the Russian Black Sea Fleet based in the port of Sevastopol and also met Crimea’s Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov, the reports said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a working meeting with the former members of Ukrainian Armed Forces – base and institution commanders who expressed a wish to continue military service in the Russian Army. Everyone who has expressed such a wish will enjoy all the social rights granted by Russian legislation and will have an opportunity to do military service in any military district and naval fleet of the Russian Armed Forces, Shoigu said.

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