OTTAWA - Comments that Canada's foreign minister has made about the ongoing crisis in the Ukraine has stirred up the ire of Russian officials.
Russia's Defence Ministry is accusing John Baird of being provocative for issuing a statement on Wednesday saying Russian troops are moving closer to the border with Ukraine.
The Russian news agency TASS quotes Russian officials as being critical of Baird as well as unnamed American and NATO officials for making the claim.
The Russian officials say Baird and other western officials have produced no actual evidence of troop movements.
But a spokesman for Baird isn't backing away from this week's comments.
Adam Hodge says the Russian denials are "more of the same deception and dishonesty from the Kremlin" and he took aim at President Vladimir Putin.
“We have no intention of taking lessons on provocation from a man who has recklessly fomented unrest and stoked widespread violence in sovereign Ukraine," Hodge said in an email.
“Further reports today of a column of Russian tanks crossing the Ukrainian border only underline Russia’s true intent and their complete lack of credibility,” he said.
“The evidence of Russia’s troop movements is plain for anyone to see, not least the NATO Secretary General, who noted the movement towards the border in a news conference on Tuesday."
Ukraine accused Russia on Friday of sending dozens of tanks and other heavy weapons into rebel-controlled eastern regions and said five servicemen were killed in clashes with the rebels.
Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council spokesman Andriy Lysenko provided no specific evidence and it wasn't immediately clear how his agency had obtained the information, since parts of Ukraine's eastern border with Russia have been under rebel control since August.
Ukraine and the West have continuously accused Moscow of fuelling a pro-Russian rebellion in eastern Ukraine with troops and weapons. Russia denies those accusations.
—With files from The Associated Press
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