Ukraine’s interim defense minister resigned Tuesday, citing the shame of losing Crimea to Russia during his one month in office.
A short time later, the Ukrainian parliament voted in an interim replacement, a colonel-general who earlier this month was briefly kidnapped from his post in Crimea.
The departure of Ihor Tenyukh, a politician who belongs to the right-wing Svoboda party, and his replacement by Col. Gen. Mykhailo Koval, a top officer in the country’s border protection service, came as the depth of the defeat in Crimea _ and Ukraine’s inability to respond to the crisis _ continued to come into focus.
The Defense Ministry said it expected only 4,300 of the 18,000 troops who were stationed in Crimea to remain in the Ukrainian military _ less than 24 percent. Others said they expected that most of the rest would join the Russian army, which has offered much higher pay and more generous retirement benefits to any Ukrainian soldier who switches sides.
“They are Russian, and they will serve Russia,” said Sergey Kunitsyn, a former mayor of Sevastopol in Crimea who’s now a member of parliament representing the region. “What else would they do? They speak Russian. Their heritage is Russian. They accept Russian culture. Their loyalty was to Crimea, not Ukraine.”. . .