Ukraine appoints new acting defence minister

Kiev, March 25: Ukraine’s parliament Tuesday appointed Mykhailo Koval as the country’s new acting Defence Minister after his predecessor decided to withdraw the country’s forces from Crimea.

The nomination, proposed by Ukrainian parliament Speaker Alexandr Turchynov, was supported by 251 lawmakers in the 450-member assembly, Xinhua reported.

Koval, 58, a colonel general, previously served as head of the Ukraine Border Service’s Administration Department.

Early in March, he was kidnapped by a group of unidentified men in Crimea, but was later released.

In a separate vote earlier Tuesday, the parliament accepted the resignation of former acting defence minister Igor Tenyukh.

Tenyukh presented his resignation to the parliament amid media criticism that he procrastinated in giving commands to the Ukrainian military and his failure to resolve the crisis in Crimea, which resulted in Russia taking control of the peninsula.

Tenyukh said his ministry had agreed on the withdrawal of the Ukrainian troops from Crimea with Russian military officials.

“We have reached an agreement to pull Ukrainian troops with arms out of Crimea,” Tenyukh told the parliament.

Ukraine would evacuate around 6,500 troops and their families from Crimea, together with military equipment worth $11 billion.

Two days later after the Crimean leaders signed a treaty with Moscow to make the peninsula part of Russia, Kiev asked the UN to grant the crisis-hit peninsula the status of a demilitarised area.

If the request is accepted, Ukraine and Russia would have to withdraw all their troops from Crimea.

Turchynov also passed a self-imposed no-confidence vote, which he put forward himself in response to a liberal party leader’s accusation of “inefficiency in settling the crisis in Crimea”.

The no-confidence motion, which required at least 226 votes to pass, gained only two.