Ukraine’s military hardware remaining in Crimea is hardly of any interest for Kiev due to its deplorable state, member of the Defense and Security Committee in the upper house of Russia’s parliament Olga Kovitidi told TASS on Friday.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with the heads of domestic printed media outlets and news agencies on Thursday that Russia was ready to return to Ukraine its military hardware from Crimea, although it was in a deplorable state. As the Russian leader said, this military hardware included dozens of warships and combat aircraft.
"The remaining Ukrainian military hardware can be returned to Ukraine only by self-delivery, if the Ukrainian side is able to set in motion this equipment, which can hardly be called military hardware now," the senator said.
Kovitidi represents the Republic of Crimea in the upper house of Russia’s parliament.
"The Ukrainian side will hardly be in a hurry to bring back the remaining military hardware from the territory of Crimea because this will be very expensive for it and this equipment has had no value for a long time," Kovitidi said.
The senator cited as an example the sole diesel-electric submarine Zaporozhye in the Ukrainian Navy. It was built back in 1970 and it had actually never gone to sea since it joined the Ukrainian Navy.
"The Zaporozhye submarine is the most vivid example. The submarine had actually always stayed idle for over 20 years in the Ukrainian Navy due to the absence of funds for the purchase of storage batteries," the Russian senator said.
"When they were finally purchased in Greece for several million US dollars, it turned out that they were unsuitable for this class of submarines," she added.
Using military hardware for spare parts
In case of receiving the remaining military hardware from Crimea, namely, tanks, armored personnel carriers (APCs) and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) and trucks, Ukraine will be able to use them for spare parts, military expert and Editor-in-Chief of Military Crimea magazine Sergei Chennyk said.
"Ukraine will be able to use this military hardware only for spare parts. This equipment is largely in an unworkable condition. It is not clear whether these tanks and other armored vehicles will be able to move on their own for loading onto platforms," he told TASS.
The expert cited as an example the Ukrainian coastal defense brigade based in the village of Perevalnoye in the Simferopol district where the armor was divided into three categories: vehicles that could ride, vehicles that could deliver fire and those that could be used for spare parts.
"A part of military equipment from this brigade was transferred back to Ukraine in 2014. The tanks were loaded onto platforms by cranes as they could not move on their own," the expert said.
The expert said he did not know the exact number of armored vehicles and trucks that had remained from the Ukrainian army in Crimea. But this military equipment could comprise several dozen T-64 and T-72 tanks, BTR-70 and BTR-80 APCs, BMP-2 IFVs, trucks, and also air defense systems, including S-300 launchers that were based in Sevastopol.
Crimea’s reunification with Russia
The Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, a city with a special status on the Crimean Peninsula, where most residents are ethnic Russians, refused to recognize the legitimacy of authorities brought to power amid riots during the coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
Crimea and Sevastopol adopted declarations of independence on March 11, 2014. They held a referendum on March 16, 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimeans and 95.6% of Sevastopol voters chose to secede from Ukraine and join the Russian Federation. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the reunification deals March 18, 2014.
In 2014, Russia started the transfer of military equipment to Ukraine from Crimea, dispatching several echelons. The exact number of Ukrainian military hardware delivered back to Kiev was not reported.