Ukraine fears militants could provoke a Russian invasion

by Reuters
Wednesday, 23 April 2014 18:14 GMT

KIEV, April 23 (Reuters) - Ukraine called on Russia on Wednesday to pull troops back from the border, saying it feared pro-Russian separatists could use their proximity to provoke a Russian invasion.

"Ukraine again calls on Russia to immediately remove offensive units of the Russian armed forces from the Russian-Ukrainian border," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding that this would comply with Moscow's obligations under last week's Geneva accord on de-escalating the crisis.

"There is a danger that armed pro-Russian militants in that part of Ukraine could use the presence of Russian troops near the frontier to provoke their entry into Ukrainian territory."

It added that Ukrainian troops were in the eastern regions "exclusively to protect citizens, irrespective of their ethnicity". Their preparation for combat was a legitimate response to the threats from Russian officials of the use of force and aggression against Ukraine's territorial integrity. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk and Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

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