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Shoigu, Lavrov Deny that Crimean Forces are Russian

Published: March 6, 2014 (Issue # 1800)



  • Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu denied that Russian forces are currently deployed in Ukraine's Crimea region.
    Photo: Denis Abramov / Vedomosti

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday denied that Russian forces are currently deployed in Ukraine's Crimea region and said that video footage showing Russian license plates on the military vehicles was "complete nonsense."

Shoigu stuck to the Russian authorities' official line, saying that troops occupying Crimea were not Russian and describing footage that suggests otherwise as a "provocation," Interfax reported.

Related: Lavrov Dismisses EU Claims

A video from the Ukrainian outlet UkrStream.Tv published Tuesday featured an unidentified soldier in the Crimean town of Kerch saying he is Russian. President Vladimir Putin got approval from the Federation Council on Saturday to send Russian forces into Ukraine, but said Tuesday at a news conference that he had not done so and that the armed men in Crimea, which has a large ethnic Russian population, were local pro-Russian self-defense groups.

Shoigu responded to journalists' questions Wednesday by saying that he did not know how the unidentified forces came to possess the Lynx and Tiger armored cars that are used by the Russian military.

Related: Tensions in Ukraine Grow Amid Russian Military Drills

His comments came the same day that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia could not order the so-called self-defense forces back to base because they were not Russian and added that his country's Navy personnel in Ukraine were at their normal positions.

Lavrov spoke at a joint press conference in Madrid with Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo ahead of a planned meeting in Paris with European and U.S. diplomats who have accused Russia of invading Crimea and have threatened to impose economic sanctions.

Russian officials have criticized the West's acceptance of the Ukrainian government in Kiev, which took power after ousted President Viktor Yanukovych fled the capital in the face of violence between anti-government protesters and police.

Putin said Tuesday that the acting Ukrainian government and president were illegitimate and Lavrov said Wednesday that "If we indulge those who are trying to rule our great, kind historic neighbor, we must understand that a bad example is infectious."

Lavrov said that the Crimean authorities, who recently refused to enter talks with authorities in Kiev, should be allowed to decided whether to let international monitors into the region.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Monday that Putin must allow international monitors to mediate a deal in Ukraine acceptable to all Ukrainian people, Reuters reported. German Chancellor Angela Merkel had suggested setting up a "fact-finding mission" to facilitate political dialogue, a proposal Putin supposedly agreed to.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during today’s Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the center’s Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonight’s performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Center’s Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodina’s website for more details.



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