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Moscow slams Ukraine military attacks coinciding with top US defense official visit to Kiev

Published time: June 03, 2014 17:49
Edited time: June 03, 2014 19:13
A man walks past the site of an explosion in a regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk June 3, 2014 (Reuters / Gleb Garanich)

A man walks past the site of an explosion in a regional administration building in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk June 3, 2014 (Reuters / Gleb Garanich)

Deadly air strikes in Lugansk are among Kiev’s “crimes against their own people,” the Russian Foreign Ministry has said. The intense air attack coincided with a top US defense official’s visit to Kiev, the ministry noted.

The statement was issued in response to the deadly bombing of the Lugansk administrative HQ, in which 8 civilians were killed Monday. The OSCE on Tuesday confirmed that the incident was an airstrike, despite Kiev’s reluctance to admit it.

The bombing has been blasted by the Foreign Ministry as “yet another crime against their own people” by the Kiev authorities. The attack also came as a grave violation of the April 17 Geneva treaty on Ukraine and the OSCE roadmap, proving that Kiev “is openly unwilling to go along the way of looking for interethnic harmony in the country.”

The ministry’s statement particularly noted that “the escalation of actions of the Ukrainian forces and ultranationalists coincided with the Kiev visit of the US Assistant Secretary of Defense Derek Chollet.”

Chollet met Monday with Ukrainian security and defense officials and announced that the US has doubled its military aid to Kiev, bringing it to a hefty $18 million in “nonlethal supplies.” The US official promised even more assistance to the Ukrainian military and border guards, saying that Kiev authorities provided him with a “long list” of needs.

Later Tuesday, Kiev admitted an intense air attack in the Lugansk area, saying that its Air Force helicopters and jets “fired more than 150 missiles” supporting the Ukrainian border guards clashing with militia.

Earlier in April, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that America was running the show in Ukraine and referenced the visits to Kiev of CIA head John Brennan and Vice-President Joe Biden.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Poland, US President Barack Obama pledged to invest $1 billion in stepping up the US military presence in Eastern Europe, to “reaffirm” Washington’s commitment to NATO allies.

“Given the situation in Ukraine right now, we have also increased our American presence. We've begun rotating additional ground troops and F-16 aircraft into Poland... to help our forces support NATO air missions,” Obama said, speaking in front of several F-16 fighter jets in a Warsaw airport.