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Ukrainian paratroops unit leaves Crimea

SIMFEROPOL, March 22, /ITAR-TASS/. A unit of Ukrainian paratroopers, who earlier were sent from Dnepropetrovsk to Crimea to reinforce the 36th coast guard brigade, safely left Crimea, Kryminform new agency reported on Saturday.

On Friday evening, they left the deployment place in the village of Perevalnoye, the Simferopol district. Two armoured vehicles of the Russian army accompanied them to the Ukrainian border, a source told the agency.

Ukrainian servicemen of the 36th brigade who have agreed to sign a contract to serve in the Russian armed forces now change the insignia for the Russian.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had ordered the Russian Black Sea Fleet commander to ensure Ukrainian servicemen who wanted to leave Crimea the possibility for organized moving to Ukraine, the Russian Defence Ministry told Itar-Tass on Saturday.

As of March 21, out of more than 18,000 Ukrainian servicemen in the Republic of Crimea, fewer than 2,000 had expressed the wish to leave for Ukraine, the ministry noted.

Russian state flags were raised over 147 military units and organizations of Ukrainian armed forces deployed on the peninsula, the ministry said.

The flag raising ceremonies were held in the garrisons, with troops lined up, the Russian state flag raised and the Russian anthem played.

St. Andrew flags of the Russian Navy were raised over 54 out of 67 ships of the Ukrainian Navy, including eight warships and one submarine Zaporozhye (where Russian flags were also hoisted), the Defence Ministry said.