A Dutch-led team, investigating the crash of a Malaysian Airlines aircraft in Eastern Ukraine in July 2014, announced its finding that the aircraft was shot down by a missile from a Russian Air Force missile launcher brought into Ukraine before the incident and taken back into Russia thereafter. This drew immediate condemnation from the US Department of State, which demanded that Russia should be called to account for this. The US Ambassador to the UN added her strong condemnation of Russia's involvement in eastern Ukraine. For its part, Russia rejected these accusations as biased, complaining that it had been kept out of the investigation, which ignored technical evidence submitted by Russia.

US Secretary of State Pompeo, in a press interaction with the Georgian Prime Minister in Washington, condemned Russia’s occupation of the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and declared that President Trump “stands by the 2008 [NATO] Bucharest declaration”. The Bucharest declaration was the first expression of NATO’s intention to admit Georgia (and Ukraine), and set in motion a train of events that included the Russo-Georgian war of 2008 and the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Russia strongly criticized the activities and public utterances of the US Presidential Envoy for Ukraine, accusing him of stoking tensions by supporting NATO’s supply of lethal weapons to the Ukrainian forces and encouraging them to violate the ceasefire.

Russian defence officials said Russian air and land missile systems were being moved to Crimea in response to NATO’s growing activity in the Black Sea Region, including warships and “spy planes”.
Russia criticized the progressive militarisation of the “Baltic space” of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, drawing attention to recent intensive military drills in Estonia and issuing the menacing warning that further escalation of military tension near Russia’s borders “will increase security risks for all Baltic countries, without exception”.

Notwithstanding these exchanges, the war of words was at lower frequency and intensity levels than in earlier months. There was also a hint of a possible lull in verbal hostilities: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo telephoned Russian FM Lavrov on May 30 – the first such conversation since his induction. According to separate releases of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the State Department, the two discussed the bilateral relationship,

Ukraine and Syria. The State Department said Secretary Pompeo “reiterated that though the United States seeks an improved relationship with Russia, achieving that will require Russia to demonstrate that it is prepared to take concrete actions to address our concerns, including interfering in U.S. domestic matters”.

 

 

May 30, 2018

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About the Author

Ambassador PS Raghavan

Former Ambassador of India to Russia; Convener, National Security Advisory Board

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.

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