MOSCOW, March 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Defence Ministry observes all international agreements on limits of troops in regions bordering Ukraine, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov told Russian reporters on Sunday in comments on reports of several foreign media outlets over concentration of “thousands” of Russian servicemen on Russian-Ukrainian border.
As a result of inspections of foreign missions in Russia, including regions bordering Ukraine, foreign inspectors came to conclusion that “Russian Armed Forces do not undertake any undeclared military activity that would threaten security of neighbouring countries,” Antonov noted.
“By the way, this question has been raised repeatedly in telephone conversations between Russian Defence Minister General Sergey Shoigu and foreign partners, including Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel and even acting Ukrainian Defence Minister Igor Tenyukh for the past month,” he recalled.
Sergey Shoigu informed absolutely clearly and unequivocally all his interlocutors about real situation on Russian-Ukrainian border and “no intentions to concentrate troops there,” Antonov added.
He recalled that Europe had an objective criterion of military activity of different countries. This is a regime of transparency and confidence-building measures in the sphere of conventional weapons based on the Open Skies Treaty and the 2011 Vienna Document on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures. Within this regime the scope of measures was developed and is being implemented, permitting different countries to receive reliable information about armed forces of each other through inspections and checks. Meanwhile, there are some restrictions on their activity that may affect security of neighbouring countries.
If the specific “thresholds” exceeded countries should state about their intentions and invite observers in some cases, the deputy defence minister noted.
“We fulfil strictly our commitments under these agreements,” Antonov stated. “Over the past month eight inspection groups have visited Russia, moreover, Ukrainian military have checked twice our facilities and places of deploying troops along Russian-Ukrainian border,” he said. “Meanwhile, we received inspectors from the United States, Canada, Germany, France, Switzerland, Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Finland on our territory,” Antonov noted.
Probably, over “mere coincidence” most of them - “seven missions” were interested in regions bordering Ukrainian border, the deputy defence minister noted. “We have met halfway our partners as much as possible, permitting them to inspect all facilities which they were interested in,” Antonov said. “We have nothing to conceal there,” he noted.
Antonov recalled that foreign missions were granted the opportunity to talk to the command of Russian military units, take pictures of the places where military staff and military hardware were deployed and control their routes of manoeuvres.
“Conclusions that our foreign partners have done at final media briefings - this is a compulsory procedure of inspections - were unanimous that Russian Armed Forces do not undertake any undeclared military activity that would threaten security of neighbouring countries,” Antonov noted.
“Therefore, Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu urged U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel to assess objectively military activity of Russian Armed Forces in the regions adjacent to Ukrainian border and not to fuel up current situation,” he said.
“We hope that Ukrainian and Western European partners will inform political leadership of their countries about real situation in Russian Armed Forces in western regions of the country,” the deputy defence minister stated.
“We believe that this factor would promote substantially alleviation of tension which Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel called for at the recent telephone conversation with General Sergey Shoigu,” Antonov noted.