KIEV, April 26, /ITAR-TASS/. The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has invited Russia to hold talks in Vienna on April 28 under the Vienna Document of April 28 on confidence and security-building measures.
It said that in reply to Kiev’s inquiry Moscow had failed to provide exhaustive explanations regarding the purpose and place of military manoeuvres held in the Southern and Western Military Districts over the past several days near the Ukrainian border, the date of their completion and the number and type of military units involved.
“Given the insufficient information received, Ukraine has suggested to the Russian Federation that consultations be held in Vienna on April 28, as provided for in the abovementioned document, in order to discuss this issue. Other states that have voiced concern about Russia’s military activities near the Ukrainian border have also been invited to take part in the consultations,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Russia Today television channel this week that Russian troops were staying on their own territory and were not taking any steps that would go against their obligations.
“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 defence 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 jeopardise 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.