Thursday, July 31, 2014


Russia

Russia Rejects Kyiv's Sniper Claims; NATO Dismisses Moscow's Accusations

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen (left) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (file photo)
By RFE/RL
The diplomatic war of words over international actions in Ukraine has escalated, with Russia attacking Kyiv's and the West's credibility as NATO and the Ukrainian government added to their list of alleged improprieties by Moscow.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said "huge amounts of evidence" contradict the statement by Ukrainian authorities that snipers loyal to ousted President Viktor Yanukovych opened fire on antigovernment protesters in Kyiv in February, killing dozens. 

"I am not going to judge how credible and founded these statements were," Lavrov said. "At the least, they contradict huge amounts of evidence that prove the contrary."

Lavrov told reporters in Moscow that "the truth about snipers has to be established in a transparent way."
 
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Ukrainian security officials said earlier on April 3 that the killings of protesters in Kyiv occurred "under the direct leadership" of Yanukovych, and accused Russian security services of involvement in the repression of demonstrators.

More than 100 people were killed during the protests that led to Yanukovych's ouster, most of them by snipers between February 18 and 20. Yanukovych fled the country two days after the bloodshed and was later ousted by parliament.

Russia has previously suggested Ukrainian ultranationalists were responsible for the sniper fire.
 
Following Yanukovych's ouster, Russia occupied and later annexed Ukraine's Crimea.

In the wake of Moscow's actions, NATO has rushed to reassure allies in eastern Europe and has also suspended all practical cooperation with Russia.

'Violating Every Commitment'

Moscow on April 3 accused NATO of violating agreements by boosting its forces in eastern Europe and recalled its top military envoy to the alliance for consultations. 

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen dismissed Russia's accusations as "propaganda and disinformation."

Rasmussen instead accused Russia of violating its international commitments. 

"We haven't violated the Rome Declaration," Rasmussen said, "and I am actually surprised that Russia can claim that NATO has violated its commitments because Russia is violating every principle and international commitment it has made."

A NATO official told RFE/RL that the alliance does not expect the suspension of cooperation with Russia to affect the use of Russian territory for the transit of supplies for NATO-led international forces in Afghanistan.

The official said the "northern supply line" transport operation is overseen by Russia and commercial companies, not the NATO-Russia Council.

Gas Dispute

Also on April 3, Russia's state-controlled energy company Gazprom announced that the price Ukraine must pay for Russian gas will rise by $100, to $485 per 1,000 cubic meters, from this month April.

It also demanded that Ukraine's state gas company Naftohaz "immediately" repay its debt, which Gazprom says now amounts to $2.2 billion.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has denounced Gazprom's new pricing plans, which replace a discounted rate, as unacceptable and a "political" use of energy resources.
 
Based on reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and RFE/RL's Uzbek Service

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