“ We are observing concentration of Russian troops and their manoeuvres on Ukrainian border with the Russian Federation. The absence of invading interests at the official level should not diminish attentiveness and watchfulness of the Ukrainian army. Our servicemen are on full alert. Generally, this exercise is provocative,” Leonid Polyakov, Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine, said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel two weeks ago that the Russian troops were massing for regularly scheduled exercises.
“The minister said it was exercises, no intent to cross the border. They need to live up to that word,” Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said last week adding that the build-up on the Russian side of the border does nothing to de-escalate the tensions between Russia and Ukraine.
Polyakov informed that about 400 persons had been evacuated from Crimea. One officer is still seized. The talks on his liberation are underway. Deputy Minister of Defense denied information that all the Ukrainian military units had defected to Russia.
Interim President of Ukraine Olexander Turchynov met with officers who were captured in Crimea by Russian troops on Friday, March 28.
“Army suffered losses but nevertheless the military completed all the tasks assigned. Thanks to you, the army prepared for country defense,” stressed Olexander Turchynov.
Turchynov announced that the officers will be awarded for their firmness and courage and they would be promoted.
Press Release, March 31, 2014, Image: Ukrainian MoD