Most of Crimea could be defended and this would not allow the Russians to hold the so-called "referendum" on the peninsula. However, an order was received to return the aircraft already during the operation. This was reported by ex-Chief of the General Staff Viktor Muzhenko in an interview with 24 Kanal.
"The General Staff considered it necessary to respond to with the use of the Armed Forces in the situation that developed at the end of February. There were corresponding plans, decisions and orders. They started the implementation on the 28th. But already during the implementation, the stop command was given, and we even returned the planes from the air to the base airfields. So, this operation did not receive the appropriate publicity", - the general stated.
"I still believe that we had a chance to defend most of the northern Crimea. This would not have made it possible for the Russians to hold a pseudo-referendum in Crimea. This is my opinion and my vision", - V. Muzhenko summarized.