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MOSCOW, April 23. /TASS/. Russian Defense Ministry has dismissed the assertions by a US Department of State spokeswoman on the presence of Russian air defense systems in Ukraine, saying Washington is stirring up public commotion as a regular NATO summit is getting closer.
The ministry’s official representative, Gen Igor Konashenkov said on Thursday Moscow hoped the Department of State would rid of the status of a whirlpool of absurd declarations after the former spokesperson, Jen Psaki, had quitted her position.
"However, we were mistaken, since the claims voiced by the new spokesperson, Marie Harf, about the concentration of ‘the highest amount of Russia air defense systems in eastern Ukraine since August’ again astonish us with the level of their incompetence," Gen Konashenkov said.
Marie Harf told a news briefing earlier that Moscow was building up air defence systems in eastern Ukraine and was training pro-Russian ‘rebels’ (fight of East-Ukrainian self-defence units) in exercises.
She claimed that the increasingly complicated nature of the training courses "leaves no doubt that Russia is involved."
"The training has also incorporated the Russian UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones TASS)," Harf said adding that in Washington’s view this was what she called an unmistakable sign of Russian presence.
Even Kiev officials have said on a number of occasions since last summer they are not using aircraft in the course of their punitive operations in southeastern Ukraine - "all the more so that it’s known perfectly well there’s virtually no aviation left within the structure of the Ukrainian Armed Forces," Gen Konashenkov said in his comment.
The Russian Defense Ministry will not be surprised if it hears one of these days that Russia is accused of "unfolding a strike group of aircraft carriers in the Lugansk region (which is landlocked - TASS) or an illegal entry of the First City Pond in Donetsk by a Russian nuclear submarine," he said.
Such statements aim to stir public commotion while the NATO summit, due in Antalya on May 13 and May 14, is getting closer, Gen Konashenkov said.
In the meantime, the factor that should really cause public anxiety is the training of Ukrainian ‘national guard’ combatants by US military in how to storm buildings in urban districts.
"The problem is these training sessions are taking place not only at the Yavoriv drill range in the Lviv region - the way the Ukrainian TV channels peddle it - but in the areas adjoining the zones of conflict in Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Artyomovsk, and Volnovakha," Gen Konashenkov said.