Russia tries to reassure West over build up of troops on Ukrainian border

Moscow says troops near Ukraine’s border pose no threat, accuses Washington of fuelling tensions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 6:49pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 April, 2014, 6:50pm

Russia on Wednesday dismissed as “groundless” concerns in Kiev and the West over the presence of its troops near the border with Ukraine, saying they posed no threat, and accused Washington of fuelling tension in the region.

Washington has accused Russia of orchestrating separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine and Nato has urged it to pull back troops from near the border with Ukraine.

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“The United States and Ukraine have no reason to be worried,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Russia has stated many times that it is not carrying out any unusual or unplanned activity on its territory near the border with Ukraine that would be of military significance.”

The statement also said Moscow had shunned a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this week in Vienna which was sought by Washington and Kiev over their concerns about Russia’s military presence on the border.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said the United States and Ukraine were conducting “an anti-Russian campaign” at the OSCE and increasing tension over Ukraine, where the authorities are trying to quell unrest by pro-Moscow protesters.

“The everyday activity of Russian troops on its [Russian] territory does not threaten the security of the United States and other OSCE member states,” it said. “Attempts to blame Russia for building up its armed forces are groundless.”

Nato says Moscow has massed tens of thousands of troops on Ukraine’s borders following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.