Moscow is surprised by the Ukrainian government's decision to close down checkpoints on the border with Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
"The Ukrainian government's recent decision arouses surprise to say the least. Russia will continue clearing in Ukrainian citizens who wish to visit their relatives and to tend the graves in connection with the upcoming Easter and Victory celebrations, through the checkpoints 'closed down' by the Ukrainian side," Viktor Sorokin, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department II for CIS Countries, told Interfax on Saturday.
Moscow has read the Ukrainian Cabinet's directive, signed by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk on February 18, to close down 23 checkpoints on the Russian-Ukrainian border, he said.
"But we have not received any official letter through diplomatic channels. The directive mostly deals with local checkpoints in Russia's and Ukraine's border regions. In accordance with the Russian-Ukrainian intergovernmental agreement on border chekpoints of February 8 1995, the decision made by the Ukrainian side does not oblige the Russian side to automatically take similar measures and halt cross-border flows through the checkpoints mentioned," the Russian diplomat said.
"Russia and Ukraine previously agreed to keep local border checkpoints open for Russian and Ukrainian citizens residing in the border regions ahead of Easter celebrations," Sorokin said.
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