KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s military released footage of an airborne paratroop unit returning on Sunday from training somewhere in the country, but acting Defence Minister Ihor Tenyukh said there were no plans to send the armed forces to Crimea.
The video clip showed 218 paratroopers from a Lviv-based unit on board an Ilyushin-76 military transporter and quoted one of them saying later that they had completed a training drill.
But responding to media speculation about Ukraine’s military plans after Russian forces took control of Crimea, Tenyukh said the only troop movements that might be seen would be from one base to another to take part in the training exercises.
“No movements, no departures for Crimea by the armed forces are foreseen. They are doing their routine work which the armed forces have always had (to do),” Tenyukh told reporters.
Russian forces have taken control of Crimea without bloodshed. There have been several standoffs with Ukrainian forces at military installations but the Ukrainians have not put up armed resistance.
The Ukrainian Defence Ministry issued a list of locations where Russian forces were on Sunday blockading Ukrainian forces.
They were the Ukrainian naval headquarters in Sevastopol; a base in nearby Perevalnoye; a marine battalion in Feodosia on the southern coast; a navy battalion in Kerch on the eastern tip of Crimea; a naval base in Novoozernoye west of the main city, Simferopol; and the Belbek military airfield near Sevastopol.
The ministry said the navy was also blocked in Sevastopol’s outer bay and Lake Donuzlav in the West.
It said there was also a unit of marines near Perekop and Armyanska at the neck of the Crimean peninsula, supported by armored personnel carriers, and separately in the same area a paratroop battalion numbering 500 men, also backed by armored carriers.
Reporting by Natalia Zinets and Serhiy Karazy, Editing by Timothy Heritage, Richard Balmforth and Alistair Lyon