MOSCOW, March 28, /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Alexander Lukashevich has issued an official commentary on the allegations about the concentration of Russian Armed Forces in the areas adjoining the border with Ukraine.
“In the light of claims on an allegedly threatening deployment of units of the Russian Armed Forces on the border with Ukraine, which are fanned by mass media at the instigation by certain politicians in the U.S. and some other NATO countries, we find it necessary to make the following remarks.
“The practice of collaboration among member-states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) - and all of NATO’s member-states also have membership of the OSCE - boasts a number of well-adjusted and fairly reliable methods of “getting analgesia” in the form of ground-based and aerial inspections under the 2011 Vienna Document, as well as surveillance flights under the Treaty on Open Skies.
“An opportunity to hold these inspections was offered to everyone who wished to get familiarized with the actual state of affairs in the areas (of Russia - Itar-Tass) adjoining the Ukrainian border. The results of the inspectors’ work were reflected in the official reports distributed to all the member-states of the OSCE.
“The unbiased information contained in them should have become, in our opinion, a subject of scrupulous analysis and the groundwork for further conclusions. And did the inspectors establish any signs of a military threat to Ukraine on the part of Russia?
“Nothing of this kind. A total of four international inspections held on the Russian territory under the 2011 Vienna document on trust-building and security measures involved representatives of Latvia, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Estonia, Belgium, France, and Ukraine, who did not track down any aggressive preparations and did not see any military activity apart from the one, on which Russian had sent notifications earlier.
“Even a Ukrainian inspection group that visited the Belgorod region from March 18 to March 20 agreed that the Russian Armed Forces were not conducting any major military activity there. The three battalions of Airborne Troops it had found outside the zone of permanent stationing - that is, in the process of a military exercise - could scarcely be viewed as signs of a “menacing buildup of military muscle.”
“Apart from inspections under the Vienna document, U.S. and German inspectors made surveillance flights under the Treaty on Open Skies in March. Although their officials conclusions will be known somewhat later after the processing of photo materials is over, one can assume that had our partners registered some aerial signs of large concentrations of Armed Forces, they would not have procrastinated with presenting “hardboiled evidence”. But they did not, and this means such evidence simply does not exist.
“In connection with the aforesaid, a few questions arise. What is the sense of verifications in the military and defense policy sphere if their results do not influence political practices, including the formation of U.S. and NATO approaches to the situation around Ukraine? Is it linked to the fact the unbiased information gathered by military inspectors does not reach political leadership? Or are these very same leaders so susceptible to emotions that they might ignore facts in favor of own political tastes and preferences?
“In any case, our Western counterparts give grounds for calling the efficiency of the International Security Treaty mechanism from the angle of consolidating trust and security. We will take account of this in our work on further improvement of the Vienna document and in the process of scrutiny of supplementary initiatives in the format of the OSCE forum on security cooperation.