Ukrainian troops 'can serve Crimea or leave'

2014-03-17 14:10
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Simferopol - Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea will have the choice to side with the new separatist state or leave the peninsula, Crimean assembly chief Volodymyr Konstantynov said on Monday, following reports they would be disbanded.

"The personnel of Ukraine's armed forces will be given an alternative: serve in Crimea and swear allegiance to the republic or continue outside the borders of Crimea in the Ukrainian army," he said.

His comments came as Ukrainian Defence Minister Igor Tenyukh, speaking in Kiev, said Ukrainian troops in Crimea "will stay there".

Konstantynov had been earlier quoted by Russian media as saying that all Ukrainian military units present in Crimea would be "disbanded" as part of a nationalisation of Ukrainian state property.

"The units will be disbanded. Those who want to live here? No problem. Those who want to swear allegiance we will examine," Konstantynov said after a session of the assembly that declared Crimea independent and approved an application to join Russia.

Crimeans took to the polls on Sunday in a vote unrecognised by the West but supported by Moscow in which an overwhelming majority cast their ballots in favour of becoming a part of the Russian Federation.

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