Putin Condemns Ukraine Ultimatums, Orders Snap Military Exercise
June 22, 2014 • 11:38AM

According to a statement posted on the Kremlin website yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin supports the ceasefire in Ukraine ordered by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. However, Putin believes that: "The proposed plan will not be viable or realistic if no practical steps are taken to commence negotiation process."Furthermore, the statement says: "The peace plan proposed by President Poroshenko should not take the form of an ultimatum to militia groups. The opportunity that opens up with the end of hostilities should be used to start constructive negotiations and to reach a political compromise between the parties to the conflict in southeast Ukraine."

Today's statement is a followup to one issued yesterday, after Poroshenko announced the commencement of the ceasefire, which was made, the Kremlin noted, at about the time that Russian territory, specifically, a border crossing station about 40 miles from Rostov-on-Don, came under fire, severely wounding a Russian customs agent. In that statement, the Kremlin stated: "In a situation like this, the Russian side should carefully analyze the text of the Ukrainian President's respective decision and its implementation procedure. Unfortunately, the initial analysis shows that this is not a proposal for peace or negotiations, but rather an ultimatum to insurgents in southeast Ukraine to lay down their arms. So far, the key component is missing—that is the proposal to commence negotiations."

Comments made by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov were in line with the Kremlin statements. Speaking from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Lavrov stated: "The plan lacks the key thing — a proposal to start dialogue. This is a drastic departure from the Geneva statement of April 17. [Moscow] is very much worried that simultaneously with the announcement of the peace plan, a military operation was stepped up, which resulted in people wounded on the Russian side."

According to statements posted on the website of the Ukrainian Presidency on June 20, Poroshenko's plan provides for the withdrawal of "illegal armed formations," as well as a corridor for the "escape" of "mercenaries," the return of illegally seized administration buildings in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and the return of functioning local government on those areas. There's nothing in the statements about negotiations with opponents of the Kiev regime, as the Kremlin statements noted.

After Poroshenko announced the ceasefire, reports emerged of the border incident referenced above. At 9:50 PM local time on Friday, June 20, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that the broder crossing station at Novoshakhtinsk had been shelled from the Ukrainian side of the border. The Foreign Ministry statement read: "The Russian side strongly protests this aggressive action. We demand of Kiev an immediate investigation, without delay, of all circumstances surrounding this crime, which is a violation of the elementary standards and principles of international law." The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denied the charge an hour later, attributing the attack, instead, to mortar fire by an anti-Kiev militia. Yesterday morning, the Kiev regime issued a second statement promising a "comprehensive investigation" of the incident. A spokesman for the regional FSB office in Rostov told Itar-Tass that there had been a clash between militias and Ukrainian military and National Guard in the area of the border crossing, when the shelling hit the crossing station. Militia units in Slavyansk, which has been heavily bombarded during the Kiev regime's "anti-terrorist operation" said that the town of Semyonovka had been attacked by aircraft overnight, hours after the ceasefire was supposed to have gone into effect, though this report remains unconfirmed.

Putin Orders Central Military District Snap Exercise

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered snap exercises in Russia's Central Military District yesterday, involving 65,000 troops from the ground forces, airborne forces and the air force. This exercise is supposed to conclude by July 1. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Putin set the task to inspect the troops time standards and ability to fulfill combat readiness posture tasks, reported Itar-Tass. Later on, the troops will be taken to training ranges for exercises. The exercise will include the movement of airborne troops a distance of 1,500 km by military transport aircraft, from their base near Ivanovo to the Chebarkul range in the Chelyabinsk region. Troops are to return to their bases by July 1. The exercise in Kaliningrad is still ongoing, though, where paratroops and coastal forces, with air support, "eliminated" a simulated enemy force which had made an incursion into the region.

The Central Military District does not border Ukraine—most of its southern border is next to Kazakhstan—but an unnamed senior State Department official (Victoria Nuland, perhaps?) complained yesterday, that Russian troops, with tanks, are massing near the Ukrainian border again. The official claimed: "We have information that Russia has redeployed significant military forces to its border with Ukraine. Some of these forces are within a handful of kilometers of Ukrainian territory." She added, according to Military Times, that she expects additional Russian troops to arrive in the region within weeks.