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15 Feb, 2022 15:42

Russia explains why it snubbed OSCE consultations called by Ukraine

Moscow insists there are no grounds for holding talks as Russia is not “conducting any unusual military activity”
Russia explains why it snubbed OSCE consultations called by Ukraine

The head of Russia’s delegation at the Vienna talks on military security and arms control, Konstantin Gavrilov, has made it clear that Moscow will not be participating in OSCE consultations called by Kiev.

Speaking to RIA news agency on Tuesday, the official explained that from Russia’s perspective there is no basis for holding any such meeting as the country is “not conducting any unusual military activity,” contrary to claims by Ukraine and its Western allies.

On Sunday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba requested a meeting of the signatories of the 2011 Vienna Document on confidence and security-building measures, which stipulates the possibility of calling consultations in the case of “unusual military activity.” Both Russia and Ukraine, along with another 54 members of the OSCE, are parties to the agreement.

Ukraine’s top diplomat cited the “buildup and maneuvers of the Russian military” along the Ukrainian border as a reason for the meeting.

Earlier, Kiev had issued a 48-hour ultimatum to Moscow, demanding that Russia provide Ukraine with detailed information regarding the troops concentrated along the country’s western borders. Russia, however, refused to comply, which, in Ukraine’s eyes, justified the summoning of the Vienna Document signatories.

At the time of writing, those consultations were supposed to have already begun, as indicated earlier by Poland, which is currently chairing the OSCE.

For months now, the West has been peddling claims of an imminent Russian invasion of Ukraine, while Moscow dismisses those as “fake,” insisting that it harbors no aggressive intentions toward its neighbor.

Some media outlets have even come out with concrete dates when Russia will presumably strike, among them February 15. Top US officials have stopped short of giving any definite time frame, but still claimed the alleged Russian invasion could start “any day.

Washington and its allies cite military drills that Russia has been conducting in its western regions, some of them adjacent to the Ukrainian border, as an indication of aggressive intentions. Moscow, however, has emphasized that it has every right to move its troops within its own territory as it pleases, without having to answer to third parties.

The Kremlin has also indicated that the ‘hysteria’ around Ukraine spurred on by its Western allies is being used as a pretext to beef up NATO’s military presence in Eastern Europe. On top of that, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in late January that the entire narrative about an ‘imminent’ Russian invasion could be meant to serve as a smokescreen to cover Ukraine’s intentions of sabotaging the Minsk agreements.