Russia claims U.S. mercenaries planning chemical attack in Ukraine

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu claimed on Tuesday that US mercenaries were preparing Ukrainian special forces and radical armed groups for “active hostilities” in eastern Ukraine and had delivered “an unidentified chemical component” to the region “to cause provocations”.

Shoygu did not provide evidence to support his allegations, which he read from a prepared statement at a meeting of Russia’s top military commanders in the presence of President Vladimir Putin. The allegations come because senior officials from the US and its NATO allies have repeatedly warned that Russian troops are being massed on the border with Ukraine and that Moscow may try to invent provocations to justify a new invasion or military strike .

The EU this month sanctions imposed It targeted a Russian paramilitary company, Wagner, citing the group’s operations in eastern Ukraine, Libya, Syria and the Central African Republic. Russia often accuses its Western opponents of malicious activities that the West previously said Russia had committed.

The accusations made by Shoygu, who is often cited as a potential successor to Putin, mark a serious escalation by the Kremlin in its grievances over US and NATO support for Ukraine, which factually accuses the West of sending mercenaries to commit potential war crimes .

Last week Russia issued a number of Western demands, including a tough guarantee that Ukraine and Georgia will never join NATO. US President Joe Biden has agreed to address Russia’s concerns, but has also called for the Normandy-style peace talks, sponsored by France and Germany, to be resumed.

In his public statements that published on the Kremlin website, Shoygu accused the Ukrainian government in Kiev of planning an attack on Russia-backed separatists who have occupied large parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions for almost eight years and are financed and supplied with weapons by Moscow.

“The North Atlantic Alliance’s desire to involve the Ukrainian armed forces in its military activities poses a threat to security given Kiev’s attempts to resolve the Donbas problem by force,” Shoygu said.

“The military development of the territory of Ukraine by the NATO countries continues,” he said. “The situation is exacerbated by the delivery of helicopters, attacks on unmanned aerial vehicles, ATGMs” [anti-tank guided missiles] of the United States of America and its allies. The presence of more than 120 employees of American private military companies in the Avdiivka and Prjasovske settlements in the Donetsk region has been reliably proven. ”

“They equip firing positions in residential buildings and socially significant facilities, prepare Ukrainian special forces and radical armed groups for active hostilities,” said Shoygu. “To make provocations, reserves of an unknown chemical component were delivered to the cities of Avdiivka and Krasny Liman.”

In his remarks at the same meeting, Putin reiterated his demands on the West, blamed the USA for the current tensions and again complained about the expansion of NATO to include former Eastern Bloc countries such as Poland.

“As you know, I proposed to the US President to start negotiations on the drafting,” Putin said.

Following his conversation with Biden earlier this month, he added: “We have sent our projects that would preclude further expansion of NATO eastwards and the use of offensive weapon systems in neighboring countries. As you know, the drafts of the relevant treaties have been handed over to our American colleagues and the NATO leadership. ”

Putin said the US and NATO are to blame.

“Why was it necessary to expand NATO?” He asked, adding, “What is happening now, the tensions that are developing in Europe are your fault. With every step Russia was forced to react somehow, with every step the situation got worse, worse, worse, degraded and degraded. And today we are in such a situation in which we are forced to decide something: We cannot allow the situation I mentioned to develop. ”

The US and EU have threatened Russia with “high impact” sanctions in the event of a military escalation in eastern Ukraine.

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