MOSCOW, May 8 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said Thursday there were 15,000 Ukrainian troops stationed near the border with Russia.
“The concentration of Ukrainian troops on the Russian-Ukrainian border is continuing. There is a contingent of 15,000 Ukrainian military personnel,” Antonov said.
He also noted the buildup of NATO troops in Eastern Europe.
“In the conditions of the continuing crisis in Ukraine, these actions, to say the least, are not helping the de-escalation of tensions in Ukraine,” Antonov said.
He also called on NATO and the Pentagon to stop their “cynical deceptions” to the world community in regard to the situation on the border with Ukraine.
NATO’s top military commander Gen. Philip Breedlove said earlier that NATO will consider permanently stationing troops in parts of Eastern Europe following the increased tensions over Ukraine, Reuters reported.
The organization also accused Russia of deploying approximately 35,000-40,000 troops in the vicinity of the Ukrainian border, in preparation for a military intervention in Ukraine.
Moscow has repeatedly said it has nothing to hide about its military exercises conducted near the Ukrainian border and international inspections have already proven them non-threatening.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier that Russia had moved its troops away from Ukraine’s border and they are currently located at their bases, where they are conducting regular training. He said that this could be easily confirmed using modern reconnaissance satellites.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Tuesday that Russia had explained the situation related to the exercises of its troops near the Ukrainian border thousands of times.
“Our army is on its territory and is exercising the activities that are not prohibited by anyone, that do not violate any legal or moral principles, and that figure in the framework of international agreements,” Lavrov said, adding that Moscow has allowed various observer missions to monitor the exercises.