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Ukraine's Foreign Ministry: troops in eastern Ukraine protecting citizens

April 24, 2014, 5:04 UTC+3 KIEV
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KIEV, April 24. /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine's Foreign Ministry alleged that the "presence of army units in the east of the country is solely aimed at the protection of citizens."

In a press release on Wednesday, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said it believed "Russia should immediately move away" its troops from the border with Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the RT news channel on Wednesday that "“we never denied that we moved additional troops on the border, just like Ukrainian authorities moved their troops closer to the Russian border because they moved them to the east and south regions.”

He also stressed that Russia had been conducting military exercises in different regions of the country on a regular basis, since Sergei Shoigu was appointed defence minister.

“The only thing I would like to highlight at this stage is that the Russian troops are on the Russian territory, the requests for inspections under the so-called Vienna Document 2011 and under the treaty of the Open Sky, they all have been granted,” he said.

“The inspectors visited the areas of deployment of the troops participating in the training exercises … No one who participated in the inspections, including the Americans, Ukrainians and Europeans, ever brought up any fact which would indicate that Russia was engaged in some dangerous military activity,” Lavrov said.

"We are on our territory," Lavrov said underlining that Russia was not engaged in any military activity that did not fall under international law.

"Ukrainian troops are also on the territory of their country, but the difference is that they have an order allowing to use weapons against civilians. It's a criminal order," he said.

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