Moscow: Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu on Saturday dismissed claims by Ukrainian authorities that Moscow has dispatched elite special forces to east Ukraine to stir unrest, saying the allegations resemble paranoia.
"These statements resemble paranoia," Shoigu was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies. "Instead of always looking for Moscow`s hand (behind events), Kiev should stop calling residents of Ukraine`s southeast `separatists` and `terrorists` and start constructive dialogue with them," he said.
"Regarding the statements about use of Russian special forces in Ukrainian events, I can only say one thing -- it`s hard to search for a black cat in a dark room, especially if it`s not there," he added.
However he then cryptically added that searching for the cat would be "stupid" if the cat is "intelligent, brave, and polite", in what could be seen as implicit confirmation of the claims.
The allegory is likely a reference to the moniker "polite people" to refer to troops who appeared in Crimea armed to the teeth in late February and surrounded government buildings and Ukrainian military bases.
Proponents of Crimea`s annexation referred to the soldiers, who bore no chevrons but were widely known to be Russian troops, as "polite people" while those who opposed Russia`s actions called them "little green men".