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23 September 2017
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EU breaks taboo on 'Russian forces in Ukraine'

The EU has broken its taboo on referring to Russian forces in east Ukraine in its official documents, according to EUobserver.

REUTERS
REUTERS

It said in its Official Journal on Monday, February 16, that Russian deputy defense minister Anatoly Antonov is being added to its blacklist because he is "involved in supporting the deployment of Russian troops in Ukraine," EUobserver reported.

It listed first deputy defense minister Arkady Bakhin for the same reason.

It also listed Andrei Kartapolov, a senior Russian military commander, for being "involved in shaping and implementing the military campaign of the Russian forces in Ukraine."

The text in the legal gazette is signed by EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini.

EU leaders did, in an informal declaration in August last year, mention "aggression by Russian armed forces on Ukrainian soil."

Individual EU officials, such as Council chief Donald Tusk, have also made hawkish remarks.

Meanwhile, Ukraine, the U.S., and NATO have spoken of Russian forces in Ukraine since last July. NATO and the U.S. also published satellite images to back it up.

But Mogherini has, since coming to office, and with the exception of Russia-annexed Crimea, avoided any reference to the Russian military in Ukraine.

The last time EU foreign ministers published a statement, on January 29, they also circumlocutions, speaking of: "evidence of continued and growing support given to the separatists by Russia, which underlines Russia's responsibility."

They urged "foreign armed groups" to leave Ukrainian territory.

The old EU taboo went above minister level.

When French, German, Russian, and Ukrainian leaders agreed a ceasefire in Minsk last week, they also bowed to Russia's claim its soldiers aren't in Ukraine by calling for withdrawal of "foreign armed formations."

When leaders of the G7 wealthy nations spoke out last week they, likewise, referred to "Russian-backed separatist militias" only.

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