Ukraine Gives Russia 48 Hours to Explain Military Drills
- Apr. 25 2014 08:21
- Last edited 08:21
Ukraine has given Moscow until Saturday toáaccount foráits military presence near theásoutheastern border while Russia demanded that theáU.S. force Ukrainian authorities toáhalt aámilitary operation ináthe region that has already led toáthe deaths ofáup toáfive rebels.
Ináa statement ináresponse toáremarks byáthe Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu earlier ináthe day announcing exercises linked toátension ináUkraine, theáUkrainian Foreign Ministry said Russia was trying toáinfluence Kiev's efforts toáfight militants ináthe east.
It said that under theáVienna Document ofáthe Organization foráSecurity andáCooperation ináEurope it was entitled toáan account ofáthe goals andáother details ofáthe exercises within 48 hours ofáits requestá— namely noon GMT onáSaturday.
"Conducting Russian exercises close toáthe Ukrainian border cannot but raise concerns, especially after theárecent declaration byáthe Russian Foreign Minister, containing anáunambiguous hint about theápossibility ofáRussian troops entering Ukrainian territory," theáministry said.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel also voiced concern at the reports of military activity along the Russian-Ukrainian border and said he was trying to arrange a call with conterpart Shoigu.
“This is dangerously destabilizing and it's very provocative. It does not de-escalate. In fact, these activities escalate. They make it more difficult to try to find a diplomatic, peaceful resolution to that issue," Hagel said.
Putting theáonus onáWashington toáease tensions after Ukrainian forces killed up toáfive pro-Moscow rebels, theáRussian Foreign Ministry however said theásituation "demands urgent actions toáforce theáKiev authorities, who are wards ofáthe U.S., toárestrain themselves andánot use force".
"We are counting onáthe U.S. toátake urgent measures ináthe interests ofáde-escalation," it said ináa statement.
"Washington must force theácurrent Ukrainian leadership toáimmediately stop theámilitary operation inásoutheastern Ukraine andáwithdraw military units toátheir permanent bases."
"So far, nothing has been done toáresolve this urgent task," it said. "We hope that Washington understands theáfull measure ofáits responsibility foráwhat is happening."
Telephone talks planned foráWednesday andáThursday between Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov andáU.S. Secretary ofáState John Kerry had not taken place "for reasons that did not depend onáMoscow," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
It said that ináadvance ofáa conversation between Kerry andáLavrov scheduled foráFriday, Russia "once again insistently calls onáWashington toáuse all its influence onáthe interim government ináKiev" toáprevent it fromátaking steps that could plunge Ukraine deeper intoácrisis.