Admiral Ihor Tenyukh, who served as acting Minister of Defense between February 27 and March 25 in 2014 says that he resigned from the position because, after the decision had been made to bring the Ukrainian Armed Forces to full combat readiness, his suggestion to “go for a breakthrough” in the Crimea was not supported.
“My plan consisted of going for a breakthrough, because this is a war. My plan was not supported, and so I resigned,” he said while testifying as a witness in the Kyiv Obolonskyi District Court in the Yanukovych high treason case on Wednesday.
Tenyukh stated that after being appointed head of the Defense Ministry, his suggestions were partially taken into account. The armed forces were brought to full combat readiness, but without leaving the military facilities. Authorization was also not given to use the assault aircraft and bombers.
The witness is convinced that declaring a state of war in Ukraine at that time would have given clarity to the actions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. He also mentioned that on February 28, 2014, at an NSDC (National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine) session, Ukraine discussed the option of declaring a state of war, but such a decision was not made.
In addition, Tenyukh noted that on March 3, 2014, he gave the order and authorization to open fire on anyone crossing the borders of the military facilities in the Crimea, but for various reasons his orders were not followed.
“I gave the instruction to ‘maintain a rigid defense’ and not to allow the military facilities to be captured, so that we would have time to bring the armed forces to a state of readiness even before the decision was made by the political leadership to use the armed forces,” he emphasized.
The former acting defense minister also recounted that between March 3-4 he contacted Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and told him that Russia had to withdraw its divisions in Crimea to their permanent stationing points.
Tenyukh is convinced that the Ukrainian Armed Forces were deliberately destroyed during the years of Yanukovych’s presidency. Many personnel were dismissed, and patriotic pro-Ukrainian officers were replaced with “more loyal and pro-Russian” officers.