Ukraine Dumps Defense Minister

With military in shambles, it seeks public's help
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Mar 25, 2014 9:42 AM CDT
In this photo taken Monday, March 17, 2014, Ukrainian Defense Minister Ihor Tenyukh pauses as he answers a question during a news conference at a hotel in Kiev, Ukraine.   (AP Photo/David Azia)

(Newser) – Ukraine's parliament has ousted acting defense minister Ihor Tenyukh without offering an immediate explanation, CNN reports. Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov prompted the move, which saw the country's parliament replace Tenyukh with Col. Gen. Myhaylo Koval. The switch comes as Ukraine's weakened military turns to the country's own people for help, the Wall Street Journal reports. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Ukraine believed international agreements protected its territory; its military has since shrunk from more than 750,000 to 140,000. As of earlier this month, just 6,000 of 41,000 land troops were said to be combat-ready.

With Russia invading Crimea, Ukraine's forces found themselves in need of batteries for their vehicles; the acting government ended up getting help from the banking and oil fortune of oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky. Meanwhile, a hotline allows Ukrainians to donate 50 cents, while a new national guard has gathered some 4,000 recruits for a two-week training process. "For the past 23 years we never really rearmed," says Vitaly Yarema, a longtime police official now in charge of defense as first deputy PM, noting a lack of "modern equipment." In other regional news, leading Ukrainian nationalist Oleksandr Muzychko, a radical who went by the name Sashko Bily, has been shot and killed. He opened fire during a police effort to detain him, says Ukraine's interior ministry, per CBC.

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