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​US official accuses Russia of firing at Ukrainian troops, refuses to explain herself

A State Department spokeswoman claimed that Russia ‘shot first’ in an incident in Crimea, which left two people killed near a military facility. But when asked to back the allegations with facts or at least explain herself, she just said to move on.

The incident on Tuesday happened near a military cartography facility in Simferopol. Local authorities are currently investigating the shooting, which also left two people injured. But they said the fatalities and injuries came after a third party opened fire on a Ukrainian serviceman and a Crimean Self-Defense trooper.

Russia considers the shooting a provocation, and Crimean authorities are openly saying that it bears resemblance to the deaths in Kiev in February, where snipers allegedlykilled both protesters and police amid a bloody confrontation.

Commenting on the incident on her Twitter account, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said:

Stop the shooting in #Simferopol. Clear that #Russia shot first, and now must show restraint. #Ukraine@UkrProgress

— Jen Psaki (@statedeptspox) March 19, 2014

The US official’s statement may imply that she considers Russia as the culprit behind the provocation, but when RT’s Anastasia Churkina asked her to clarify the position on such serious allegations, Psaki became evasive.

“We don’t see how it’s possibly true that the Russian claim that someone else was the aggressor, that the Ukrainians were the aggressor can possibly be true, given they [the Russians] entered the Ukrainian base” she said.

Russia never accused Ukraine of any wrongdoing in the incident, but when Psaki was told that, her reply was, “They have said that a little bit. I think we’re ready to move on. Do we have another topic?”

It’s not the first time State Department spokeswoman has dodged hard questions on the Ukrainian turmoil. In early February it was her job to give an explanation over the leaked record of an alleged phone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, in which they appeared to discuss who should be in the new Ukrainian cabinet.

At the time Psaki refused to confirm that the tape was authentic or to view it as proof of America’s meddling in the Ukrainian crisis. But she did call the leaking of the tape “a new low in Russian tradecraft.” She didn’t offer any evidence to back that accusation.