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During the ordeal, the colonel gave reporters and TV crews the run of the base grounds still in Ukrainian hands, and held impromptu news conferences in front of brigade headquarters.

Any hungry journalists were welcome to join his men for borscht and kasha in the mess hall, the colonel said.

Displaying a sense of cool under pressure as the inevitable storming of his base neared, Mamchur oversaw an impromptu wedding between two lieutenants - medic Galina Volosyanchik and communications officer Ivan Benera.

As the couple were handed a gift and bouquet of flowers, Mamchur said: “You will always remember this, the whole world is here watching.”

Hours later, armed pro-Russia forces smashed into and took control of the base.

The colonel’s arrest provoked helpless outrage in Kiev.

But any fear that Mamchur would defect to the other side proved unfounded.

On Wednesday afternoon, acting Crimean Ukrainian President Oleksandr Turchinov announced that officers detained by Russian troops were being released.

Mamchur was given the time to gather his belongings from home, bid farewell to his wife, and leave the peninsula. Like all military spouses left behind by retreating troops, Larissa Mamchur will be reunited with her husband once new accommodation is found for them.

If Mamchur was fazed by his ordeal, he showed no sign of it.

“I feel good. I am in a fighting mood,” he told reporters during his TV appearance. “What will I do now? First I will build up my strength and then I will make a decision. Glory to Ukraine!”