A Russian court document mentions that Russian troops are “stationed” in eastern Ukraine. Moscow insists there are none.
Moscow – Last month’s verdict by a Russian court on a bribery case appears to inadvertently relate to the presence of Russian troops in the rebel-controlled Donbass area of. to acquire. A district court in Russia’s Rostov region on the Ukrainian border announced that the manager of a company called Tekhnologiya LLC was responsible for storing and selling food to Russian troops stationed in eastern Ukraine.
The court sentenced the manager to five years in prison for transferring about $ 13,500 from his boss to a local government officially, in order to flatter oneself with authorities and avoid disruptions in the supply chain.
“These rations should be sent to military units of the Russian armed forces stationed on the territory of the DNR and LNR,” said the court’s judgment published online, referring to the self-proclaimed “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk “in eastern Ukraine .
After the document spread through Russian media, the page was quickly removed from the court’s website. CBS News has reviewed an archived digital copy of the verdict. The document was first discovered by a Ukrainian observer who was under the Twitter handle Necro_Mancer and reported by RFE / RL.
Moscow has repeatedly denied the presence of Russian soldiers in Donbass, where rebels have been fighting against Ukrainian government forces since 2014. President Vladimir Putin’s government insists that Russia is not part of the conflict. The US and the European Union accuse Russia of supporting the separatists with troops, hardware and money.
Probably “a bug”.
The Kremlin said Thursday the information in the document was “a mistake”.
“That is probably the mistake of those who wrote this text. Because it is impossible,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. “No Russian armed forces were and are not present on the territory of the self-appointed republics.”
However, the court’s ruling did provide details about the complications of the apparently clandestine logistics operation. The defendant had told the court that some drivers had been paid relatively large sums of money – between $ 880 and $ 1,090 – for a delivery route because of “the complexity and dangerousness of the route”.
The defendant said the drivers “risked their own lives” at the border, had to remove their license plates, hand over documents and go to the unloading docks escorted by the receiving party.
Food deliveries to the People’s Republics are planned every two weeks, according to the judgment. A caravan consisted of more than 70 vehicles that could carry 1,300 tons of cargo, including flour, canned food and fresh vegetables. Such a delivery is said to have cost over a million dollars.
Ukraine, Russian invasion and “red lines”
The conflict that broke out withAway from Ukraine in 2014 has now claimed more than 13,000 lives. On Friday the Ukrainian military announced in a Facebook post that a soldier had been killed in a new “ceasefire violation by the Russian occupation forces”.
The tense military stalemate has escalated in the midst of US intelligence in recent weekson his side of the Ukrainian border.
Washington has urged its European allies to prepare a new round of tough economic sanctions against Moscow and warned Putin against invading Ukraine. US officials previously told CBS News that Russia could deploy around 175,000 soldiers in the border area by early next year, making an attack possible as early as January.
However, the State Department said the US did not yet know whether Putin had made a decision to attack.
The Kremlin has consistently denied any plans to invade Ukraine, and Putin has repeatedly referred to NATO’s eastward expansion as a threat to Russia. He demanded that his “red lines” with regard to Ukraine be respected – especially that the US close the door to NATO membership to Kiev.
US President Joe Biden rejected allegations of NATO aggression, saying that it was not up to Moscow whether a country would join the alliance. Last week the two heads of state and government held a two-hour video summit to discuss the crisis. They agreed to send representatives to working groups to look for ways to ease tension.
No ultimatum, no “warning”
Earlier this week, Putin called for “immediate” high-level talks to address Moscow’s security concerns. Russian diplomats have sent the US a list of proposals for mutual security guarantees and handed it over to the US Deputy Secretary of State Karen Donfried, who was in Moscow after talks in Kiev.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Friday that Russia was no longer ready to leave the current situation standing and urged the West to immediately and without preconditions to enter into serious talks in an attempt to repair relations.
“We don’t use the language of ultimatums with anyone; we are very responsible for our own safety and the safety of others. The question here is not whether we have issued an ultimatum, it is not, ”Ryabkov emphasized, adding:“ But the seriousness of our warning must not be underestimated. ”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told Air Force One reporters Friday that the US had seen Russia’s proposals but that “there would be no talks on European security without our European allies and partners.”