Russian minister tells U.S. no plans to cross into eastern Ukraine -Pentagon

by Reuters
Thursday, 20 March 2014 19:50 GMT

WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel received assurances on Thursday from his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, that Russian troops along Ukraine's eastern border had no plans to enter the country, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Rear Admiral John Kirby said Hagel spoke to Shoigu for nearly an hour by telephone and was "clear and firm" in telling him that with Russian forces in control in Crimea, they were responsible for any incidents there.

During the call, Hagel asked for an explanation of why Russia was deploying forces along Ukraine's eastern and southern borders and was assured by Shoigu they were conducting exercises and had no intention of crossing the border, the spokesman said. (Reporting by Phil Stewart and David Alexander; Editing by Sandra Maler and David Storey)

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