Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE Courtney Austrian said this at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on Thursday, April 15, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
“For seven years, Russia has orchestrated a large-scale hybrid campaign against Ukraine, while denying its involvement and obstructing progress toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Now Russia is further escalating tensions through its flash military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine’s eastern flank,” she said.
The American diplomat noted that over the last few weeks, participating States of this Permanent Council watched as Russia crafted its latest false narrative to accompany the build-up. It repeated elements yesterday in the Joint PC-FSC meeting – convened at Ukraine’s request to gain clarity regarding the situation on the ground and Russia’s intentions – even though Russia’s disinformation contradicts the facts as reported by the SMM.
"We should now be very clear: Russia, and not Ukraine, is responsible for any escalation on the ground in eastern Ukraine," the U.S. representative to the OSCE said.
She pointed out that long before any actual increase in violence, the Russian delegation to the OSCE suggested Ukraine was preparing to expel Russia-led forces from the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
"In fact, there is zero evidence Kyiv has or is planning any military operation. We’re less sure about Moscow’s plans," Austrian noted.
Therefore, the United States welcomed Ukraine’s invocation of Chapter III of the Vienna Document, to seek clarity on Russia’s military activities in the region, which include the largest massing of Russian forces near and in occupied Ukraine since 2014.
As Ukrinform reported, the Russian armed forces have recently been building up troops near the state border of Ukraine in the north, east and south, as well as in occupied Crimea. In addition, the number of ceasefire violations by the armed formations of the Russian Federation in eastern Ukraine has increased; there are losses among the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. At the same time, the Russian Federation is conducting a propaganda campaign to justify possible aggression against Ukraine.
On April 6, it also became known that, against the background of a buildup of troops to the Ukrainian border, Russia had begun a control check of the army's combat readiness.
The United States, other Western countries, as well as the EU and NATO, came out in support of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity against the backdrop of Russia's escalation in eastern Ukraine.
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