Russian occupying troops in Crimea are led by Lieutenant General Igor Turcheniuk, a deputy head of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation. This is taken from an audio recording of Turcheniuk’s meeting with the officers of Ukrainian Naval Forces at one of the military bases, a copy of which has been obtained by RBK Ukraine.
After introducing himself to the officers and describing his own military background, Turcheniuk indicated that he, himself, is of Ukrainian descent, and then called on the Ukrainian officers to surrender their weapons to the stockpile. “We will all defend it together. There will be no physical coercion,” the Lieutenant General said.
As to the reason for the presence of Russian troops in Crimea, Turcheniuk explained several times: “As agreed with the legally legitimate President, Putin has given an order, and all military structures in Crimea are now reporting to me under the command of the Prime Minister of Crimea until May 25 [the date of presidential elections]. Putin is providing assistance to the Government of Crimea upon its request. There are 2.5 million people living in Crimea. 60% of them are Russian.”
Turcheniuk emphasized that the request for the naval officers to surrender their weapons had also come from “Admiral Berezovskiy” [who was apparently still in command of the naval forces at the time].
The Ukrainian Naval Forces officers have refused to surrender their weapons, noting that the command of the Ukrainian armed forces is based in Kyiv and that they have no intention of complying with orders of a general of a foreign army.
According to Ukrainian naval officers in Crimea, Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Naval Forces Denys Berezovskiy had ordered his officers not to resist the Russian military and to hand over their weapons [while still officially in his position]. The Unit Commanders refused to follow his order, considering it to be criminal. They appealed to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and Berezovskiy was dismissed. Thus, according sources, Berezovskiy’s oath swearing allegiance to the people of Crimea came after he had already been ousted as a Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Naval Forces.
Translated by Mariya Shtangrat, edited by Lesia Stangret