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Presence of US Military in Ukraine Violates Kiev’s Commitments - Russian Foreign Ministry

Personnel from the private contractor company 'Academi' (formerly 'Blackwater') also said to be present among Ukrainian forces in the Donbass

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MOSCOW, April 22 (TASS) - The presence of US servicemen in Ukraine violates Kiev’s commitment to withdraw all foreign units and mercenaries from the country’s territory, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry by telephone on Wednesday.

"Lavrov drew attention to the fact that the arrival of servicemen of the US 173rd airborne brigade at the Yavorovsky shooting ground near Lvov and information that the personnel of the US military company ‘Academi’ had appeared in the ranks of the Ukrainian troops in Donbas were indicating that the Kiev government had violated its commitments to withdraw all foreign units, military hardware and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Lavrov stressed the need to strictly adhere to the package of measures to implement the Minsk agreements, which the parties in Ukraine conflict reached on February 12. The process was mediated by the "Normandy four" leaders /Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine/.

The telephone conversation took place at the US side’s request.

"Urgent issues of bilateral relations, including a schedule of possible future contacts, were also part of the agenda. Lavrov said that Russia was open to constructive cooperation with the United States on the basis of equality, respect of Russian interests and full renunciation of attempts to exert pressure on our country," the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

The Russian and US foreign policy chiefs discussed other international issues, including the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear programme and the situations in Syria and Yemen.

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