Ukraine gives Russia 48 hours to explain army drills near border

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Russia has 48 hours to explain the purpose and location of the military drills being held near the Ukrainian border, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

“Under clause 16 of the Vienna document on confidence- and security-building measures, Ukraine has asked the Russian Federation through the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) communication channels to provide its explanations regarding the purpose and location of the drills, their completion date, as well as the number and types of the troops involved, Interfax reports.

In accordance with the Vienna document, Russia must provide clear explanations regarding these drills within 48 hours after receiving the request, i.e. before 4 p.m. Kyiv time on April 26,” the Foreign Ministry said.

The announcement by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu about the start of the battalion tactical combined-arms groups from the Southern and Western military districts due to “the aggravation of the situation in southeast Ukraine” is a proof that the Russian military activity conducted over the past few months near the Ukrainian border is “not routine but directly linked to the developments in Ukraine,” the ministry said.

“By demonstrating its military might on the border with Ukraine, Moscow is trying to influence the Ukrainian authorities’ legitimate efforts aimed at countering armed gangs in the eastern Ukrainian regions,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

The ministry also expressed concern over the Russian drills close to the Ukrainian border, especially “in the wake of the Russian foreign minister’s recent statements hinting unambiguously at the possibility of introducing Russian troops into Ukraine.”

Shoigu said earlier on Thursday that the battalion tactical combined-arms groups in the Southern Western military districts began drills due to the aggravation of the situation in southeast Ukraine.

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