The Russian ambassador to the EU has been responding to accusations that his government is behind the seizure of two airports in Crimea.
Ukraine’s new government has called it an “invasion” and “occupation” by Russian forces. Moscow denies any involvement.
Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov told euronews: “There are no troops whatsoever, no Russian troops at least. The international airport of Simforopol is functioning normally. The military airport of Belbek is probably also functioning normally.”
When asked why “self-defence” groups were being formed in Crimea, Chizhov answered: “They have been hearing threats that so-called ‘friendship trains’ loaded with armed supporters of the Kyiv Maidan were on their way to Crimea. Naturally the local population is worried.”
Chizhov dismissed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s call on Russia not to intervene, saying: “The US with its tradition of interfering in other countries and sending troops overseas, may be acting according to their own mentality, I would say. But this is not a case of Russian interference. Actually many people in Russia are asking questions about why is the Russian government keeping such a low profile.”
Meanwhile, Kyiv’s border guard reported on Friday that more than 10 Russian military helicopters had flown into Ukrainian airspace over Crimea.