MOSCOW, March 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russian flags have been raised at all military units in Crimea, less than a week after the Russian leader signed a decree finalizing the reunification of the former Ukrainian region, Russia's military chief said Wednesday.
As Crimea's reunification process began last week, all 193 military units in the predominantly Russian-ethnic region have replaced Ukrainian flags with Russian ones and applied to join the Russian armed forces.
Some 1,500 out of 18,000 Ukrainian troops who have opted to continue their service with the Ukrainian armed forces will leave the region after handing over their weapons for protection, Valery Gerasimov, Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces said.
The servicemen and their families will be transported from the Black Sea peninsula by railways, under the agreement with the Russian Defense Ministry, Gerasimov said.
Shortly after President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Friday to ratify the reunification treaty, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said those soldiers wishing to continue their service with the Ukrainian armed forces were free to leave Crimea and will receive the required assistance to do so.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday Russia's Ministry of Defense will have the authority to decide if Ukrainian servicemen can leave the peninsula with their service weapons.