Russian military aircraft have not breached any state borders, including those of Ukraine, Russia’s Defense Ministry has said. Ukraine’s acting defense minister has also retracted claims by Kiev that Russian jets “violated Ukrainian airspace seven times.”
“Russia’s means of objective airspace situation control did not record any violations of air boundaries of the states adjacent to Russia, including those of Ukraine,” Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement Saturday.
Pentagon officials quoted by US media Friday claimed that “Russian fighter jets flew into Ukrainian airspace a handful of times over the last 24 hours,” calling it “a continued provocation.” The officials were not named.
“The unfounded claims of Pentagon officials on the alleged ‘breaching of airspace of Ukraine by Russian fighter jets’ appears to have been based on rumors and speculation,” a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman told Itar-Tass on Saturday.
“Those media allegations are populist in nature, they contain no information on the time and place of the incident, as well as no data on altitude, speed and the direction of aircraft, as well as no other objective parameters,” the spokesman said.
The US sources must have “dreamed it all up,” or “a little bird told them that,” the spokesman added.
The Defense Ministry spokesman called on Pentagon officials to stop “spreading unverified ‘facts’ through the media,” saying that “it does not at all help de-escalate the situation in Ukraine.”
Instead, the US Defense Department should “use the many years’ experience of cooperation on information interchange” with the Russian side.
The Ukrainian coup-imposed acting defense minister, Mikhail Koval, on Saturday told journalists that no violations of state borders by the Russian aircraft or troops have been recorded.
“Four [Russian] transport airplanes Il-76 were flying along our state border but they did not cross the borderline,” Koval was quoted as saying by Interfax-Ukraine.
The “peak of activity” of the Russian Armed Forces conducting military exercises near the Ukrainian border was recorded on April 24-25, he said. The closest that the Russian troops came to the Ukrainian border was 2-3 kilometers, Koval said.
According to the Ukrainian official, the Russian drills were meant to discourage Kiev from continuing with the so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in three southeastern regions of Ukraine. However, he added, the military operation continues “although its pace is not high.”
Koval’s statements, made during the Saturday briefing, apparently contradicted the allegations earlier made by the Kiev government against Russia.
“Russian military aircraft today at night crossed and violated Ukrainian airspace seven times. The only reason is to provoke Ukraine… and to accuse Ukraine of waging war against Russia,” the coup-imposed Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk claimed during his visit to the Italian capital, Rome. Yatsenyuk, who had previously made similar unfounded allegations of “Russian tanks in Crimea” and “nuclear weapons in Iran,” was speaking to reporters in English.