The Ukrainian parliament has accepted the resignation of Defence Minister Igor Tenyukh as thousands of troops left Crimea for the Ukrainian mainland.
Addressing parliament, Mr Tenyukh rejected criticism that he had failed to issue clear instructions to troops, many of whom had been trapped in their bases as Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula, but said he reserved the right to stand down.
Parliament then voted to install Col. Gen. Mikhail Kovalyov as his replacement, according to AP.
Some members of the armed forces and their families have now begun their journey back to Ukrainian territory, but the majority appear to have chosen to stay behind and take their chances in what is now a ‘federal subject’ of Russia.
“4,300 servicemen and 2,200 family members wish to continue serving in Ukraine’s armed forces and will be evacuated from the autonomous republic of Crimea,” the out-going defence minister said.
The Russian annexation of Crimea is now all but complete, and it is unclear whether those troops who stay behind will continue to be members of the Ukrainian armed forces.
With the remaining Ukrainian military facilities having fallen, and the Russian parliament having passed legislation to incorporate the territory into the Russian Federation, there is no chance of Ukraine ever recovering it.