World Bulletin / News Desk
Ukraine has withdrawn its ambassador from Belarus after Minsk said it accepted the breakaway Crimea region as part of the Russian Federation.
Kiev sent a diplomatic note to Belarus on Monday after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said his country recognized Crimea as a de-facto part of Russia.
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yevgeniy Perebiynis told reporters: "In view of the statement made by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on March 23, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry has withdrawn the ambassador of Ukraine in the Republic of Belarus for consultations."
Perebiynis said Lukashenko's statement did not conform “to the generally recognized rules of the international law".
On Friday, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry also recalled its ambassador to Armenia after demanding an official explanation regarding President Serzh Sargsyan’s acceptance of the disputed referendum in Crimea which heralded its annexation by Russia.
The Armenian ambassador in Kiev was also summoned to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has announced that almost 50 percent of its troops in the unrecognized Republic of Crimea have defected to the Russian military.
Earlier on Monday, acting president of Ukraine, Oleksandr Turchynov, ordered the military to withdraw its forces from Crimea for re-deployment in mainland Ukraine.
"It is 50/50 in quantitative terms. That is, about 50% have switched," Oleksandr Rozmaznin, the deputy chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces' Main Command Center told a press briefing.
"The withdrawal will happen very soon," said Rozmaznin, adding that "Even if there are no weapons, the people are what matters. And the weapons will be taken from arms depots."
Rozmaznin said three Ukrainian ships blockaded in Donuzlav Lake have not defected and it is impossible to move them into the open sea, but the Defense Ministry was not considering scuttling the ships.
Meanwhile, secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Andriy Parubiy, revealed that more than 10,000 Ukrainians have enlisted in the country’s National Guard since the announcement of the partial nationwide army mobilization by parliament.
Moscow effectively took control of Crimea after gunmen - suspected of being Russian miliary - seized Simferopol Airport and the Crimean parliament building on February 27-28.
President Vladimir Putin signed an annexation order on Tuesday, triggering U.S. and EU sanctions against key Russian officials.Last Mod: 25 Mart 2014, 10:02