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Lavrov: Russian troops stay on own territory, take no steps against obligations

April 23, 2014, 21:46 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"However, if we are attacked, we will respond by all means," Russia's minister of foreign affairs stated

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MOSCOW, April 23. /ITAR-TASS/. Russian troops are staying on their own territory and are not taking any steps that would go against their obligations, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the Russia Today television channel on Wednesday, April 23, in connection with the military exercises now underway in central Russia.

“We have never denied the fact that we sent additional troops to the border [with Ukraine] just as the Ukrainian government redeployed its troops closer to our border. Our troops are conducting exercises on the territory of our own country. Such exercises are conducted regularly since Sergei Shoigu was appointed defense minister,” Lavrov said.

Exercises are held in different parts of Russia. “As far as I know, the next exercises will be held in the north-west of the country. This is a continuous process. The army must be in good shape and ready to act while hoping that it will not have to interfere,” the minister said.

“However, if we are attacked, we will respond by all means. If our legitimate interests and the interests of Russian people are directly affected, as was the case in South Ossetia, I see no way to respond other than doping so in full compliance with international law. Those who threaten the security of Russian citizens jeopardize the security of the whole country,” Lavrov said.

He stressed the fact that Russian troops were staying on the territory of Russia. “Demands for inspections under the so-called Vienna Document of 2011 and the Treaty on Open Skies were satisfied. Inspectors from the United States, the European Union and Ukraine visited Russian troops’ bases and could not cite even one fact that would signify dangerous military activities on the part of Russia,” the minister said.

“We are on our own territory and are not taking any actions that would go against our obligations,” he said. “Ukrainian troops are also staying on their territory, but the difference is that they have an order allowing them to use weapons against peaceful citizens. This is a criminal order.

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