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April 13, 2014

US Lists 10 More ‘False’ Russian Claims on Ukraine

by VOA News

Covering everything from Russia’s denials that it has agents in Ukraine to Moscow’s claim that it is not using energy as weapon against Kyiv, the U.S. government has issued a new list of “Russian fiction” in which it rebuts, point by point, assertions Russia has made about its professed non-involvement in Ukraine.

Coming as a sequel to a similar list published March 5, which was immediately condemned by Russia’s Foreign Ministry as a “primitive distortion of reality,” the new 10-point list, issued by the Office of the Spokesperson of the Department of State, takes on a new set of claims which it says Russia uses to continue “to spin a false and dangerous narrative to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine."

1. On Russia’s claim that its agents are not active in Ukraine – the State Department points out that the Ukrainian government has arrested more than a dozen suspected Russian intelligence agents and that those who have seized government building in eastern Ukraine were outfitted in bullet-proof vests, camouflage uniforms and were carrying weapons reminiscent of Russia’s “illegal military intervention in Crimea” in late February and its subsequent occupation.

2. On Russia’s claims that pro-Russia demonstrations are comprised exclusively of Ukrainian citizens acting of their own volition, the list points out that this is not a “grassroots Ukrainian civic activism” as witnessed on Kyiv’s Maidan where a movement grew from a handful of student protesters to “hundreds of thousands from all parts of the country and all walks of life.” The State Department also underscores what its calls an open recruitment campaign on Russian internet sites for Russians to travel to Ukraine to incite unrest. It says there is evidence that “protesters” receive payment for such services.

3. On Russia’s claim that separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine enjoy broad popular support, the list point that, according to opinion polls, the vast majority of people even in largely Russian-speaking parts of eastern Ukraine “want to live in a united Ukraine and reject unification with Russia.”

4. On Russia’s claim that the situation in eastern Ukraine risks spiraling into civil war, the State Department points out that there simply have not been large-scale protests in the region, and what is happening there now “would not be happening without Russian disinformation and provocateurs fostering unrest.”

5. On Russia’s claim that Ukrainians in Donetsk rejected the illegitimate authorities in Kyiv and established the independent “People’s Republic of Donetsk,” the list points, out that a “broad and representative collection of civil society and non-governmental organizations in Donetsk categorically rejected the declaration.”

6. On Russia’s claim it ordered a “partial drawdown” of troops from the Ukrainian border, the State Department points out that there is no evidence of any significant movement, and that “an estimated 35,000-40,000 Russian troops remain massed along the border, in addition to approximately 25,000 troops currently in Crimea.”

7. On Russia’s claim that ethnic Russians in Ukraine are under threat, the list, citing polling data, says there is no credible evidence supporting the claim. Moreover, it points out that “the ethnic Russians most at risk are those who live in Russia and who oppose the authoritarian Putin regime.”

8. On Russia’claim that Ukraine’s new government is led by radical nationalists and fascists, the State Department says that Ukraine’s parliament, elected by all Ukrainians, has not changed since the fall of the regime of president Viktor Yanukovych, and that Ukraine's current government was overwhelmingly approved by the legislature, including by members of the party Yanukovych headed prior to being ousted.

9. On Russia’s claim that ethnic minorities face persecution in Ukraine from the “fascist” government in Kyiv, the list points out that a number of ethnic and religious minorities have expressed a “sense of safety under the new authorities in Kyiv.”

10. On Russia’s claims that it is not using energy and trade as weapons against Ukraine, the State Department underscores that only in the past two weeks Russia raised its natural gas price for Ukraine by 80 percent and that it continues to restrict Ukrainian exports to Russia.

There has been no immediate reaction by Russia to the State Department’s latest list.