Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin tells Anadolu Agency that arms experts from foreign states raised no concerns during inspections this month
UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he received assurances from Russian President Vladimir Putin that he would not send troops into southern and eastern Ukraine.
After briefing UN Security Council members on his recent trip to the Russian Federation and Ukraine, Ban told a press conference on Friday that he was informed the Russian president would not make any additional military move in that direction.
He said Mr. Putin assured him “he would have no such intention”.
“I should also tell you that, at the same time, President Putin also expressed his concern about some extreme radical elements, and any such movement along the borderlines,” he added.
Mr. Ban said he had been “really trying to urge both parties to de-escalate the situation”, but added: “Emotions were running high, as you will agree, and tensions have been very highly charged.”
- 'No Russian aggression'
Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin confirmed that Ban's comments were exactly what President Putin “said in his statement from March 15th”.
Churkin told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the assumption that further “Russian aggression is eminent” in Ukraine was wrong.
“During this month of March, we had four inspections with participants from 12 countries under the Vienna Document. Then we had inspections, from US, Germany and Ukraine, under the Open Skies Treaty (arms control agreement),” Churkin said.
He said that, following the inspections, no one told Russia “that there was something of particular concern”.
“I am sure that, if they had showed something dramatic, they would have raised hell immediately,” Churkin told AA.
- Ukrainian weapons 'returned'
The Russian ambassador also said President Putin had given an order to Russian troops to return all weapons and military hardware from the Ukrainian soldiers in Crimea back to the Ukrainian Army.
“This is not what you do if you plan to do something else,” Churkin said, adding: “There is no worry of a Russian initiative against Ukraine.”
Speaking about his diplomatic initiative, Ban Ki-moon also said it had been the UN’s intention from the beginning to seek a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the crisis in keeping with the fundamental principles of the United Nations Charter.
But when asked if the referendum and the subsequent annexation of Crimea by Russia violated the UN Charter, and asked what was the current legal status of Crimea, the UN Secretary General did not give a direct answer, saying "The United Nations is guided by the General Assembly Resolution which was adopted yesterday.”
With 100 votes in favor, 11 against, 58 abstentions and 24 no-show states, the UN General Assembly on Thursday adopted a resolution reaffirming the territorial integrity of Ukraine and declaring the March 16th referendum in Crimea invalid.
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