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MOSCOW, June 9. /TASS/. Russia’s Defense Ministry has once again refuted allegations about the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine. The ministry said on Tuesday it "knows nothing" about the Ukrainian defense minister’s attempts to speak over the phone with his Russian counterpart.
"As for [Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan] Poltorak’s allegedly hollow ‘attempts’ to get in touch over the phone with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, the Russian Defense Ministry know nothing about that, neither from official nor from unofficial sources," defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
"Mr. Poltorak may be willing to speak [with Shoigu] by the overseas ‘telephone switchboard’ keeps on blocking his outbound calls to Moscow," he said.
Commenting on allegations about the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine, Konashenkov said Kiev’s allegations on that matter were absolutely ungrounded. He said the figures cited by Kiev officials "are typically directly proportional to the way they spend the weekend and inversely proportional to the time remaining before a next big international event." In his words, this could be the only explanation "why on June 4 [Ukrainian President] Petro Poroshenko speaks at the Rada [Ukrainian parliament] about 9,000 Russian troops allegedly present in south-eastern Ukraine, and after a good weekend, on June 8, Defense Minister [Stepan] Poltorak finds 42,500 Russian servicemen and a tank army of 558 tanks."
Konashenkov recommended the Ukrainian president, as a supreme commander-in-chief, "to ask the defense minister how he spent the weekend before hearing his reports on Mondays."