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Russia Asserts Ukrainian Soldiers Can Leave Crimea “Freely,” But Maybe Not With Weapons

The Russian government asserted Tuesday that Ukrainian military units departing the Crimean Peninsula can withdraw “freely,” but that the Russian military will determine whether they leave with or without their weapons.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday, “We said a long time ago that [Ukrainian] military personnel may leave freely from the territory of Crimea.”

Russia’s Ministry of Defense, Peskov said, will have the ultimate say whether Ukrainian troops must relinquish their weapons when they depart Crimea.

On Monday, Ukrainian Armed Forces’ Deputy Chief of the Main Command Center Major-General Oleksandr Rozmaznin briefed the Cabinet Ministers on the logistics of the withdrawal, including negotiations over whether the Ukrainian troops will be able to depart the now Russian-controlled region with their weapons. “Even if there are no weapons,” Rozmaznin said, “the people are what matters. And the weapons will be taken from arms depots.”

Ukrainian military units are expected to depart Crimea through the town of Krasnoperekopsk on the Perekop Isthmus and the town of Chonhar in Kherson region.

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