Ukrainian lawmakers on Tuesday dismissed acting defence minister Igor Tenyukh over his handling of the Crimea crisis following Russia’s annexation of the restive Black Sea peninsula.
Some 228 deputies in the 450-seat Verkhovna Rada parliament supported the measure in a vote taken shortly after Tenyukh tendered his resignation.
Deputies then quickly voted to appoint Lieutenant General Mykhailo Koval as the new acting defence minister after his name was submitted for parliamentary approval by acting President Oleksandr Turchynov.
Koval had made news earlier this month when he was briefly abducted by pro-Kremlin militias near his military base in the Crimean port of Yalta.
Crimea’s effective loss — though recognised by no major Western power — has dealt a heavy psychological blow to many Ukrainians who have already spent the past years mired in economic malaise.
Ukraine’s ground commanders in Crimea had complained of indecision and confusion among the naval and army brass in Kiev since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision on March 1 to seek the right to use force against his neighbour in response to last month’s fall in Kiev of a pro-Kremlin regime.
Tenyukh acknowledged the public discontent in an address to parliament shortly before the vote.
“It seems that the actions of the interim defence minister in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea… has displeased some,” said Tenyukh.
“I have never clung on to my job, and I don’t intend to do so now,” he said. “I have honour.”
Ukraine on Monday ordered its outnumbered troops to withdraw from Crimea following the peninsula’s lightning seizure and annexation by Russia.
Russian forces have been seizing Ukrainian military bases in the Black Sea peninsula, often without having to put up a fight.