Pentagon responds to Russian 'chemical weapon' warning
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu’s claim that US private military companies (PMCs) are planning to stage a provocation in eastern Ukraine using chemical weapons is incorrect, the Pentagon has insisted.
Speaking to the press on Tuesday, US Department of Defense press secretary John Kirby completely denied all suggestions of any American plans to stage an incident.
“Those statements by Minister Shoigu are completely false… they’re false,” Kirby said, in response to a question from a reporter.
Earlier on Tuesday, at a meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry board attended by President Vladimir Putin, Shoygu claimed that 120 employees of American PMCs have been placed in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
“They are setting up firing positions in residential buildings and socially important facilities and are training Ukrainian special operations forces and radical armed groups for active combat operations,” Shoygu claimed. “To carry out provocations, tanks with unspecified chemical components have been delivered to the towns of Avdeevka and Krasnyi Lyman.”
The minister provided no further details or evidence to back up the claim.
Tensions have been mounting in eastern Ukraine since last month when several Western media outlets reported that Russia had been massing troops near the border and claimed that Moscow was planning a large-scale military invasion of the country. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that it has any plans to invade and has called for a diplomatic solution.
Also on Tuesday, during the same board meeting, Putin said that tensions in Europe were the fault of the US. According to the president, the deployment of American missiles, as well as large-scale exercises near the country’s borders, are causing concern for Moscow.