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Russian defense minister inspects troops stationed in Crimea

March 10, 2015, 17:53 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Russian defense minister checked the progress of turning the peninsula into "an unassailable fortress"
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© EPA/ VADIM SAVITSKY / POOL

MOSCOW, 10 March. /TASS/. Russian Defense Minister General Sergey Shoigu on Tuesday checked the progress of the works for the installation of infrastructure for military units and formations in Crimea and Sevastopol, the ministry press service reported.

"Visiting the military garrisons of the Crimean Peninsula the defense minister heard a report by the Black Sea Fleet Commander Admiral Alexander Vitko on the state of combat readiness of the fleet, progress of the formation of multi-service groups of troops in Crimea, the provision of military units with new weapons and military equipment, as well as progress of the creation of the infrastructure for the stationing of new ships and submarines," the ministry said.

In addition, Shoigu checked the progress of construction of infrastructure facilities at the sites of formation of new units and forces, the Sevastopol-based Presidential Cadet Corps and the Nakhimov Black Sea Higher Naval School. On the minister’s instructions, a group of generals and officers checked daily activities of the units and forces formed last December - a separate coastal defense brigade and separate logistics brigade of the Black Sea Fleet.

The Defense Ministry said that this year the Black Sea Fleet is to receive two frigates of Project 1135.6 - the Admiral Grigorovich and Admiral Essen warships, two small-sized missile ships - the Zeleny Dol and Serpukhov. In addition, the fleet will be replenished with two diesel-electric submarines - the Novorossiysk and Rostov-on-Don, which have already been delivered to the Navy.

At the end of last year, Shoigu announced that a self-sufficient group of forces has been deployed in Crimea. Later, Russian presidential envoy in the Crimean Federal District Oleg Belaventsev said that the peninsula would be turned into "an unassailable fortress."

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.

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