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US Defense Secretary says Russia should guarantee will not invade Ukraine

Russia should provide guarantees of an absence of plans to invade Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said Wednesday after talks with British Secretary of State for Defense Philip Hammond.

He recalled his conversation last week with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, whom he asked why Russia deploying its Army units along its Western border. Shoigu assured him that the Russian military had no plans to cross the border with Ukraine.

However, reality is such that the buildup of the numeric strength of Russian troops along country's western border continues and the Russians should give more guarantees that they are still committed to the assurances given by Shoigu.

Hagel and Shoigu discussed the situation in and around Ukraine by telephone March 20, with the Pentagon's official spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby saying it lasted about an hour.

Kirby said Hagel had mentioned the issue of Russian troops deployed nearby the Russian-Ukrainian border but Shoigu said in response the troops had been deployed other only for the period of military exercises and there were no plans or intensions on the part of military planners to cross the border.

Kirby described the conversation as a frank one and said Hagel had thanked Shoigu for giving so much time to it.

[Source: Itar Tass, Washington, 26Mar14]

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