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Russian Defense Ministry board considering formation of military grouping in Crimea

November 12, 2014, 20:20 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Formation of a full-fledged and self-sufficient grouping of forces in Crimea to ensure the military security of the country and its allies on the south-western strategic direction is a priority task

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Victory Day military parade in Crimea

Victory Day military parade in Crimea

© ITAR-TASS/Stanislav Krasilnikov

MOSCOW, November 12. A Russian Defense Ministry board is discussing the issue of forming a grouping of forces in the Crimean Federal District, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Wednesday.

“Analysis of the possible development of events dictates the necessity to maintain readiness of troops of the Southern Military District to ensure the military security of the country and its allies on the south-western strategic direction. In these conditions, the formation of a full-fledged and self-sufficient inter-branch grouping of forces on the Crimean Peninsula is a priority task,” Shoigu said.

In his assessment, the military and political situation in Russia’s southwest remains complicated.

“In many respects, this is connected with the situation in Ukraine, with fomentation of anti-Russian moods on the part of NATO and reinforcement of foreign military presence in the immediate vicinity to our borders,” Shoigu said.

Crimea's accession to Russia

The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.

Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11. They held a referendum on March 16, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18.

In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954, when Nikita Khrushchev, the first secretary of the USSR’s Communist Party, transferred it to Ukraine's jurisdiction as a gift.

Work to integrate the Crimean Peninsula into Russia’s economic, financial, credit, legal, state power, military conscription and infrastructure systems is actively underway now that Crimea has accessed to the Russian Federation.

Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

Conflict in eastern Ukraine

After the Crimean events, mass protests erupted in Ukraine’s southeast, where local residents, apparently inspired by Crimea's example, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities either, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.

According to the UN, more than 4,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Luhgansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April, to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s republics.

The parties to the Ukrainian conflict agreed on a ceasefire at talks mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk.

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