WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Sunday issued a list of 10 false claims it said Russia was making in order to justify its operation in Ukraine following Moscow's annexation of the Crimea region last month.
Pulling off its diplomatic gloves, Washington issued its second list in just over a month of false claims it said Russia was making about Ukraine.
"Russia continues to spin a false and dangerous narrative to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine," said the statement entitled "Russian Fiction: The Sequel. Ten More False Claims about Ukraine."
Moscow dismissed a similar list issued on March 6 as a "primitive distortion of reality", cynicism and double standards.
In its list on Sunday, the State Department said that contrary to claims made by Moscow, Russian agents were active Ukraine and Russia was fomenting unrest there.
"What is going on in eastern Ukraine would not be happening without Russian disinformation and provocateurs fostering unrest. It would not be happening if a large Russian military force were not massed on the border, destabilizing the situation through their overtly threatening presence," the statement said.
It added that despite claims Russia had ordered a partial drawdown of troops massed on the Ukrainian border, there was no evidence showing significant movement of Russian forces away from the border.
Finally, it said, Moscow was using energy as a weapon against Kiev despite claims to the contrary.
"Russia raised the price Ukraine pays for natural gas by 80 percent in the past two weeks. In addition, it is seeking more than $11 billion in back payments following its abrogation of the 2010 Kharkiv accords," it said.
The full list posted on the State Department website is available on http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224759.htm
(Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Writing by Sandra Maler; Editing by Eric Walsh)