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