MOSCOW, March 20. /ITAR-TASS/. U.S. Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel called Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Thursday, March 20, to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
The minister and the secretary exchanged views on the situation in Crimea and Ukraine and ways to ease tensions in the region. “Sergei Shoigu stated in detail Russia’s vision of the situation on the Crimean Peninsula in the light of the new realities there,” the Defence Ministry said.
The Russian minister also commented on Hagel’s concerns about the massive build-up of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. “In particular, the Russian defence minister drew the attention of his interlocutor to the maximum transparency of our military activity in the regions adjacent to the Ukrainian border. He stressed that as part of their obligations under the Open Skies Treaty and the Vienna Document on Confidence and Security Building Measures of 2011, Ukrainian inspection groups had the opportunity to visit military facilities and make observation flights in the Western and Southern Military Districts. The same opportunity was given to several Western inspection groups.”
“The international inspectors did not notice any undeclared military activities or activities threatening Ukraine’s security,” the Defence Ministry said.
Shoigu urged Hagel to “make an objective assessment of Russia’s military activity in regions adjacent to the Ukrainian border and not to whip up tensions”.
The Treaty on Open Skies entered into force on January 1, 2002, and currently has 34 States Parties. It establishes a programme of unarmed aerial surveillance flights over the entire territory of its participants. The treaty is designed to enhance mutual understanding and confidence by giving all participants, regardless of size, a direct role in gathering information about military forces and activities of concern to them.
The Vienna Document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures and Disarmament in Europe was adopted by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in November 2011. It calls for inspections of specific areas and units in order to oversee military activities and make annual assessments of information provided by each member state. The U.S. is a member of the OSCE since 1973, Russia since 1992.