Washington: The US has rejected Russia`s claim of withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border, saying there was no evidence to prove that Moscow has taken any such step.
"We would certainly welcome a meaningful and transparent withdrawal of Russian military forces from the border. That`s something that we have sought for quite some time. I will say that, to date, there`s been no evidence that such a withdrawal has taken place," White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said yesterday.
Earnest said the US and other leaders from the international community were expressing their concern for quite some time now that Russian forces had been deployed to a newly constructed forward deployment area along the Ukrainian border.
"This deployment was not for a typical training exercise, but rather was intended to foment instability in the region, and in Ukraine specifically, I should say," he said.
He said the US believed that the referendum should not just be postponed, but also be cancelled.
"What we would also like to see is greater support for the ongoing effort by the Ukrainian government to hold free and fair elections on May 25th. We would like to see the Russians contribute to the effort to encourage all Ukrainians to participate in that election. That is the best way for the people of Ukraine to determine the future of their country," he said.
The Russian government should live up to the commitments they made in Geneva to use their influence with pro-Russian separatists in eastern and southern Ukraine to encourage them to lay down their arms and vacate the buildings they have taken over, he said.
The secretary said the Russian government had previously suggested that these troops were deployed for a training exercise, but there is no evidence to date that there has been a meaningful and transparent withdrawal of Russian forces from the Ukrainian border.
"The fact of the matter is this is a forward deployment area that was newly constructed right near the border with Ukraine that served only to promote instability and to agitate the communities in that region along the border. That is why we have urged for a few months now for the Russians to withdraw their forces from that region," he said.