Speech of First Deputy to the Secretary of the NSDC of Ukraine Mykhailo Koval at the session of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine commemorating the fifth anniversary of Russia’s armed aggression against UkraineThe alarming information about Russia's plans to seize the Crimea by 2014 has repeatedly been submitted by security services to Ukraine's top leadership.
However, contrary to logic, the felonious systematic reduction of the combat capability of the Armed Forces of Ukraine had been carried out for years on end. For many years, the Ukrainian army had been systematically destroyed and disarmed, the mobilization system and the logistic structure had been ruining.
In such a way, in 2003, the 32nd army corps within the 84th and 127th separate mechanized brigades of up to 12,000 people were disbanded in the Crimea. Military units and elements were transferred to the coastal defense troops of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and later, in 2004, they were disbanded.
The 3rd separate special operations regiment of up to 1600 servicemen was relocated from the Old Crimea of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea to Kirovohrad (now Kropyvnytskyi).
In the east of Ukraine, the 254th motorized infantry division was disbanded in the city of Artemivsk (now Bakhmut) in the Donetsk region, and in the south, the 1st airborne division in Bolgrad of the Odessa region was reorganized into the 16th separate mechanized brigade, which was subsequently disbanded.
In fact, the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine, in particular, Crimea, strategically important for the state's defense, were left unprotected.
In addition, the operational troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Donetsk and Kyiv were disbanded.
Thus, at the beginning of 2014, almost all the combat units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine deployed in the Crimea - the 36th separate coastal defense brigade in Perevalne, the 1st marine corps in Feodosia and the 501th marine corps in Kerch were shortened, and their number did not exceed 5 600 servicemen; at the same time, the size of parts of the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed in the Crimea, and those additionally redeployed forces of the Russian Federation, amounted to 30 000 servicemen.
To strengthen the units and parts of the Black Sea Fleet at the end of 2013 - early 2014, the following units and elements were secretly redeployed to the Crimean peninsula:
the 76th air assault division from Pskov
the 31st air assault brigade from Ulyanovsk
the 45th guards independent reconnaissance brigade of the Airborne Troops from Kubinka
the 10th and 22nd separate special operations brigades of GRU from Molkino and Stepove,
the 10th separate reconnaissance brigade from Mozdok,
the 382nd marine battalion from Temryuk, Krasnodar Krai,
the 414th and 757th separate battalions of the Marine Corps of the Caspian Flotilla,
which were later used to block units and elements of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and to prevent their fulfillment of assigned combat missions.
Parts of the 7th airborne division from Novorossiysk and Stavropol were also used as a reserve to strengthen the Russian grouping in the Crimea.
In early 2014, the security situation in Crimea was complicated and difficult to predict. The personnel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine after the Maidan events was left without leadership and virtually demoralized. The Crimean and Sevastopol "Berkut" had already cooperated with Russia and defected to the enemy's side. Special services of the Russian Federation were actively conducting subversive and propaganda activities.
After President Viktor Yanukovych's withdrawal from the fulfillment of his constitutional duties and his escape to the Russian Federation, the following persons betrayed the military oath and defected to Russia: Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Yuriy Ilyin, Commander of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Denys Berezovsky, commanders of the 36th separate brigade of coastal defense, 501th separate marine battalion and many other military commanders, as well as the majority of employees of the Security Service of Ukraine and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Crimea.
Those who did not betray their country while staying in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea during its annexation included: out of the 13 468 soldiers and officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine - only 3,990 (29.6%), of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine - out of 10 936 only 88 (0.8%), of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine - out of 1 870 only 519 (29.7%), of the Security Service of Ukraine - out of 2 240 only 242 (10.8%), of the Administration of State Guard of Ukraine - out of 527 only 20.
The thesis of conducting exercises and providing security during the Sochi Olympiad was used as a legend to redeploy Russian troops to the Ukrainian border.
The Russian Federation has created in advance a powerful military grouping near the borders of Ukraine, which, taking into account operational reserves, amounted to 200 thousand people.
Only reduced parts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were deployed the east and south of Ukraine at that time.
According to the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, at that time, the total number of military units and elements that could have been used to carry out combat missions did not exceed 5 000 servicemen.
At the same time, the most powerful arsenals and bases with weapons, missiles and ammunition of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, where there was strategic and operational ammunition in the east and south-east of Ukraine, had been destroyed in previous years.
Therefore, in early 2014, the Armed Forces of Ukraine were unable to effectively counter Russian aggression in terms of their composition, staffing, training, and armament.
To create a military advantage, Russia's leadership launched a military operation on February 20, 2014, when tragic events took place on the Maidan, and Ukraine's executive system and security and defense sector were virtually destroyed.
Under the prevailing conditions, the state's leadership, aware of the real threat of a full-scale invasion of the mainland of Ukraine by the Russian troops, which received the permission of the Russian parliament on March 1, 2014, made a decision on mounting defense and maintenance of military towns located in the Crimea.
Ukrainian soldiers and officers who did not betray the military oath, had courageously restrained the siege during a month, giving the Ukrainian leadership the opportunity to launch mobilization, coordination, conduct exercises, and relocate units and parts of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to the north, south and east of Ukraine, as well as to prepare defensive frontiers in the most threatening directions, to suppress separatist protests in many southeast regions of the country.