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Poroshenko Blames Yanukovych For Ukrainian Army's Weak State When Russia Seized Crimea

Petro Poroshenko gives testimony at the Kyiv Court of Appeals on June 15.
Petro Poroshenko gives testimony at the Kyiv Court of Appeals on June 15.

KYIV -- Former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko says that only 20 percent of the country's armed forces were combat-efficient when Russia annexed Crimea following the toppling of Russia-friendly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in early 2014.

Poroshenko told the Kyiv Court of Appeals on June 15 during his testimony at a hearing into an appeal by Yanukovych against his high-treason conviction that the Ukrainian Army at the time of the invasion was extremely weak, a state Poroshenko blamed on Yanukovych.

"The army did not have enough gasoline, batteries, clothes, bulletproof vests," Poroshenko said, adding that Yanukovych bears full responsibility for the situation in 2014.

Yanukovych's lawyers filed the appeal challenging a Kyiv court's January 24 decision to sentence the former leader in absentia to 13 years in prison on a high-treason charge.

In early February, they also filed a lawsuit against the State Bureau of Investigation, alleging crimes by government officials, including judges who took part in trials against Yanukovych.

Yanukovych has called the sentence "illegal" and denied guilt in several other probes launched against him after he fled Ukraine for Moscow in late-February 2014 in the wake of deadly pro-European rallies known as the Euromaidan, during which more than 100 protesters were killed.

Weeks after Yanukovych's flight to Russia, Moscow seized and illegally annexed Ukraine's Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and fomented unrest and backed separatists in Ukraine’s eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, where some 13,200 people have been killed in the ensuing conflict since April 2014.

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