Lawmakers in Ukraine have accepted the resignation of the Defence Minister as thousands of troops withdraw from the Crimean Peninsula, now controlled by Russia.

In his address to parliament, Igor Tenyukh said on Tuesday that he rejected criticism that he had failed to issue clear instructions to troops, but that he reserved the right to step down. Lawmakers initially refused his resignation but then accepted it.

Authorities in Ukraine have come under criticism for their often-hesitant reaction to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which was formalised following a hastily organised referendum this month.

DPA adds from Moscow:

Putin spokesman slams G8 decision

The decision to exclude Russia from the G8 summit in June is “counter-productive,” a spokesman for President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

“We have an interest in these contacts,” Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.

Despite the summit being moved from the Sochi to Brussels, Russia and the West were still in talks at expert level, he said.

Moscow was willing to keep up dialogue with those who wanted it, especially on the global fight against drugs and terrorism, according to Mr. Peskov.

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