Russia: ‘English-Speaking Foreigners’ Fighting in Ukraine

Russia renewed its rhetoric about U.S. involvement in the Ukraine crisis Friday, announcing that "English-speaking foreign fighters" were spotted among Kiev forces fighting for control of a separatist-occupied city.

In a statement, Russia's Foreign Ministry said that "English speech was heard on the air and English-speaking foreigners were spotted among those who attacked Slovyansk."

The statement did not spell out Russia's belief that Americans were involved, but said it "wanted to give a reminder" that Washington had denied previous allegations of military involvement in the country.

Image: Crisis in Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers surround a tank at a checkpoint they seized near Slovyansk on Friday. ROMAN PILIPEY / EPA

The foreign ministry said it had previously received information alleging that U.S. private security forces were involved in Ukraine but these claims had been "indistinctly refuted by Washington."

"It is well known that the so-called private military organizations do not work abroad without a sanction of the U.S. State Department," it added.

The statement also accused the West of employing a "destructive policy towards Ukraine."

The comments came as Ukrainian forces were involved in a standoff with pro-Russian separatists occupying the city of Slovyansk, one of several seized areas in the east of the country.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said it was "indignant" over the assault and alleged the Ukrainian forces contained "terrorists of the Right Sector [a Ukrainian far-right group] and other ultra-nationalist organizations."

It said the West was preventing peace "by supporting the organizers of the of the coup d’etat in Kiev."

- Alexander Smith