MOSCOW, July 7. /TASS/. There are no terrorists among militiamen of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) fighting in south-eastern Ukraine, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister in charge of antiterrorism efforts Oleg Syromolotov told TASS commenting on accusations that Russia provides military support to the militias.
Syromolotov underscored that Russia is ready to defend its foreign policy interests "by all available legal means, in line with international practice and on the basis of international law."
He said that if media now join this work, this should not be perceived for example as an element of information counteraction, all the more so war.
"It more looks like truth that information war, and at times a rather cynical one, has been conducted for decades against Russia," the deputy Russian foreign minister said. "Only this allowed the global public opinion to refuse to see evident elements of the situation in a number of states, agree with the clearly wrong policy of their own governments, for example, in Iraq, Libya, Syria. And now in Ukraine."
He said that if the term "hybrid war" means accusations against Russia of military support for "separatists", then it "first of all, surely has nothing to do with reality, terrorism or counterterrorism."
"Among those fighting in the southeast of Ukraine, in the ranks of the DPR and LPR militiamen, there are no and can be no terrorists. Because they have not committed and are not committing any terrorist acts, they are fighting for their freedom, defending their families and rights."
"On the contrary, the actions of forces standing against them, first of all, combat units of radical organizations, in our view, quite fall under the definitions of extremist and terrorist crimes, or even military crimes, crimes against humanity," Syromolotov said.
"And such crimes will not go unpunished," he said. "The Russian side is conducting relevant work and will keep conducting it until punishment is inevitable for all those guilty."
After a coup occurred in Ukraine in February 2014, mass protests soon erupted in Ukraine’s south-east, where local residents, mostly Russian speakers, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.
In response, Kiev in April 2014 announced the start of "an antiterrorism operation" in east Ukraine, which involved the Armed Forces, the Interior Ministry’s National Guard and volunteer battalions made up of Euromaidan activists, many of whom hold far-right and neo-Nazi views.
Ukrainian troops have been engaged in fierce fighting with local militias during Kiev’s punitive operation, underway since mid-April 2014, against the breakaway territories - the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics constituting parts of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine.
Massive shelling of residential neighborhoods, including with the use of aviation, has killed thousands and led to a humanitarian disaster in the area.
Kiev has regularly violated the ceasefire regime imposed as part of the Package of Measures on implementation of the September 2014 Minsk agreements.
The Package (Minsk-2) was signed on February 12, 2015 in the Belarusian capital Minsk by participants of the Contact Group on settlement in Donbas. In line with the document, cannon artillery with calibers of 100 millimeters and more was to be withdrawn from the disengagement line to a distance of 50 kilometers.