State Dept.: Russia's moves 'strikingly similar' to those in Crimea

 

The State Department on Sunday attempted to debunk claims about Russia’s action in Ukraine as pro-Russian protesters occupy government buildings in eastern Ukraine. 

In a release Sunday titled "Russian fiction the sequel: 10 more false claims about Ukraine," the State Department pushed back on the assertions that the recent separatist protests are organic or have attracted popular support in the country. 

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"We would not be seeing the violence and sad events that we've witnessed this weekend without this relentless stream of disinformation and Russian provocateurs fostering unrest in eastern Ukraine," according to the State Department. 

The State Department list follows a similar release put out last month in the weeks leading up to Russia's annexation of Crimea. 

The State Department said Russia's actions in eastern Ukraine are "strikingly similar" to the ones leading up to its annexation of Crimea. The department said Russian officers have provided separatists with advice and instruction ahead of the capture of government buildings in eastern Ukraine. 

“There simply have not been large-scale protests in the region," the State Department said. "A small number of separatists have seized several government buildings in eastern cities like Donetsk, Luhansk, and Slovyansk, but they have failed to attract any significant popular support."

The Associated Press reported a deadline set by the Ukrainian government for separatists to disarm and leave government buildings passed without indication of any action. The Ukrainian government had vowed a large-scale operation to gain back control of parts of the region if separatists did not pull back.  

The State Department said there continues to be 40,000 Russian troops massed at the eastern border and another 25,000 in Crimea. Russia has also raised the price of natural gas and has restricted exports from Ukraine in an attempt to harm the economy there, according to State. 

In comments before an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said the $1 billion loan guarantee to Ukraine that the United States approved would be finalized Monday. Vice President Biden will travel to Ukraine next week. And later this week Secretary of State John Kerry is slated to meet with the Russian foreign minister during Geneva talks.

CIA spokesman also denied a claim by former Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych on Sunday that CIA Director John Brennan has encouraged Ukraine to "conduct tactical operations" within its borders.