The Russian Defense Ministry said the US military instructors have been spotted in the combat zone in eastern Ukraine, training the country’s National Guard in the field, despite promises to hold the exercises at a remote range in Lvov.

Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov slammed Washington’s claims of increased presence of Russian air defense units in the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions of Ukraine as “astonishing in its incompetence,” TASS reported.

On Wednesday, US State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said that it’s currently “the highest amount of Russian air defense equipment in eastern Ukraine since August,” without providing any evidence to substantiate the claim.

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Konashenkov explained that Harf’s statement was just an attempt to “warm up” the general public ahead of the NATO summit, scheduled to take place in Antalya, Turkey on May 13-14.

The spokesman added that the international community should be more concerned with the US troops training Ukraine’s National Guard now conduct battle in urban environments.

“But it’s not happening at the Yavorov training site in the Lvov Region [in western Ukraine] as reported by Ukrainian TV, but directly in the combat zone near Mariupol, Severodonetsk, Artyomovsk and Volnovakha,” he said.


As for Russian or any other air defense units, their presence in eastern Ukraine would be useless, as even the Kiev authorities publicly acknowledged that they haven’t been using aviation in their military operation in the east since August, Konashenkov said.

“Especially, since we all know, that there’s hardly any aircraft left in the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” he added.

According to the spokesman, it’s very difficult to predict what other accusations against the Russian military might be invented by US officials. The Defense Ministry “won’t be surprised if it gets blamed for deploying a carrier strike group in the Lugansk Region or illegal entry of a Russian nuclear submarine in the main city pond of Donetsk,” he said.