Washington has rejected a Russian claim that US troops were training Ukrainian forces in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, accusing Moscow of a “ridiculous attempt” to deflect attention from its own activity in the region.
“This is a ridiculous attempt to shift the focus away from what is actually happening in eastern Ukraine,” Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said on Thursday, Reuters reported.
“Russia continues to supply lethal weapons, training and command and control support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine, in blatant violation of Moscow’s Minsk commitments and Ukraine’s sovereignty,” she was quoted as saying.
Lainez said the Pentagon had been clear about a program in which it was training Ukrainian guardsmen in the western part of the country, but stressed that US troops were not involved in any mission in the combat zone in the east.
The comments came after a Russian defense ministry spokesman said earlier the day that US troops were training Ukrainian forces not only in western Ukraine “as Ukrainian TV channels show, but directly in the combat zone in the area of Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Artyomovsk and Volnovakha”.
The US on Wednesday accused Russia of building up air defense systems inside eastern Ukraine and of involvement in training exercises of pro-Russian rebels in breach of the European-brokered truce.
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