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Russian defense minister asks US counterpart to be objective about Ukraine

March 21, 2014, 9:28 UTC+3 MOSCOW
In a telephone conversation with US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed Russia’s readiness for contacts with all parties concerned for the sake of de-escalating tensions in the region
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MOSCOW, March 21. /ITAR-TASS/. In Thursday’s telephone conversation requested by the US side, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu asked his US counterpart Chuck Hagel to be impartial in assessing Russian military activity in areas along the Ukrainian border and to avoid fanning tensions.

The Russian Defense Ministry told Itar-Tass the defense ministers exchanged opinions on the situation in Crimea and Ukraine and shared ideas of ways of easing tensions in the region in general.

“Shoigu explained in detail Russia’s vision of the situation in the Crimean Peninsula in the context of the newly-emerged realities,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The Russian defense minister offered a detailed response to Hagel’s concerns over a “massive build-up” of the Russian armed forces on the Russian-Ukrainian border.

“In particular, Shoigu drew attention to the extreme transparency of Russia’s military activity in regions along the Ukrainian border,” the Defense Ministry said. “He pointed out that of late under the Treaty on Open Skies and the Vienna Document on the Confidence and Security-Building Measures in Europe, Ukrainian inspection groups had an opportunity to visit military facilities and carry out inspection flights over Russia’s Western and Southern military districts. Such an opportunity was also offered to several Western inspection groups.”

“The international inspectors identified nothing that might look like undeclared military activity or activity endangering Ukraine,” the Russian Defense Ministry said.

Shoigu confirmed Russia’s readiness for contacts with all parties concerned for the sake of de-escalating tensions in the region, the Defense Ministry said, adding that at the end of their detailed and frank discussion the defense ministers agreed to maintain regular contacts.

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