Kyiv, 24 March 2014 – More details are now known about the seizure of the premises of the Feodosiya 1st Detached Marine Battalion of the Ukrainian Naval Forces on the night of March 24. According to the Head of the Crimea Regional Media Center of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Vladyslav Selezniov, “during interrogations, the marines were put under pressure, accused of crimes and threatened with criminal cases.” He also said that, as of 02:30 PM, no information was available about the Commander of the Marine Battalion, Lieutenant Colonel Dmytro Deliatytskyi and his Deputy for Personnel, Major Rostyslav Ilonkiv. The update was broadcast live at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
A marine from the Feodosiya battalion who remained loyal to his oath to Ukraine confirmed that the unit’s commanders had been abducted. During the live broadcast at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center, he said that shots were fired at military personnel, staff office and barracks during the assault, and some of the rooms and premises were destroyed. “The personnel of approximately 150 persons were injured, some of them seriously. The commander had his ribs broken. Together with his deputy for personnel, he was flown away in helicopter in an unknown direction, – said the marine. – Currently, those military who wish to serve Russia will stay at the base while those who remain true to the oath have been dismissed to collect their personal belongings”.
The Press Secretary of the Defense Ministry in Crimea also said that, in accordance with the re-deployment order issued by the National Security and Defense Council, the marines were supposed to be evacuated from the battalion today, however as of 02:30 PM many were reluctant to leave the base until their commander and deputy commander for personnel come back. He underlined that the order to stay was still in force: “Stand and hold on. There was no other order”.
As regards the failed attempt by the Russian military to seize Ukrainian combat ships earlier today, Mr. Selezniov confirmed that “Kostyantyn Olshanskyi” and “Cherkasy” are now in the Donuzlav harbor, both under Ukrainian flags. “Today in the morning, there was an attempt to seize “Kostyantyn Olshanskyi” landing ship during which the Russian military on boats were trying to get a boat team on board the ship, but it managed to escape the pursuit,” he told the reporters.
Commenting on the conflict at the peninsula, Vladyslav Selezniov said that the Russian military are using very unusual methods to influence the Ukrainian marines: “To seize the Southern Naval Base near the Novoozerne village, Russian military shielded themselves with local women and kids to break through the defense and seize the base”.
Speaking about the officers who took the occupants’ side, retired colonel, first commander of a marine brigade in Crimea, president of the Ukrainian Marines Union, Volodymyr Voloshyn said that, “most of all these officers will be used and then publicly dismissed”.
Mr. Voloshyn also noted that retired marines are ready to volunteer and have already sent a letter to the acting President of Ukraine requesting to be enlisted in one of the military units: “This issue is currently being considered, but we are already keeping contact with the Marines Staff since at some bases they are now ready to accept veterans as volunteers”.