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Russia says all Ukrainian servicemen who wanted to leave Crimea have gone

Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says all the Ukrainian servicemen stationed in Crimea were allowed to leave for mainland Ukraine but 8,000 military men stayed and applied for permission to serve in the Russian army.

Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula in March after Crimea residents voted overwhelmingly to seek to join Russia. The referendum was called two weeks earlier, coinciding with the military occupation of the region by armed men in unmarked uniforms.

Shoigu on Friday denied claims that the Russian army has mistreated Ukrainian servicemen, Russia news agencies reported.