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Senior official: Ukraine to start withdrawal of servicemen from Crimea soon

March 27, 2014, 23:37 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, March 27, 23:09 /ITAR-TASS/. Kiev plans to start withdrawing Ukrainian servicemen from Crimea, a former Ukrainian region that recently became part of Russia, soon, acting Ukrainian presidential administration head Sergey Pashinsky said Thursday.

Pashinsky said technical details are currently being agreed. He emphasized that “talks are proceeding with great difficulty”.

“We hope we will begin withdrawal of troops in the next few days,” he said.

Mikhail Koval, whom the Ukrainian parliament on Tuesday appointed acting defense minister to replace dismissed Igor Tenyukh, confirmed Tuesday that Ukraine will withdraw its troops from Crimea. Tenyukh earlier said the withdrawal will be carried out jointly with armaments.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday confirmed that Ukrainian servicemen may freely leave Crimea. “But with weapons or not will be up to the Defense Ministry to decide,” Peskov told journalists.

A Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman said earlier this week that up to 2,000 of Ukrainian servicemen will have to be withdrawn from the Crimean Peninsula.

The Republic of Crimea, where most residents are Russians, signed a reunification agreement with Russia on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

The developments followed a coup in Ukraine in February, which brought to power new authorities in Kiev that Crimea and Russia do not recognize.

In the Soviet Union, Crimea used to be part of Russia until 1954.

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