The private security and aviation firm Greystone Ltd. denied Russian allegations that it had sent personnel to Ukraine to help Kiev's military prepare for a crackdown on the country's pro-Russian residents.
In a phone call with Foreign Policy, a Greystone spokesperson said "the company does not currently nor do we have any plan to send employees to Ukraine."
The spokesperson declined to reveal her name or details of the firm, which provides security training and aviation services to clients and has offices in Virginia and Abu Dhabi.
The denial came just hours after the Russian Foreign Ministry accused "American experts from the private military organization Greystone" of working with Ukrainian troops to seize control of eastern Ukraine. In the last 48 hours, pro-Russian protesters have occupied government buildings in the eastern Ukrainian cities of Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk. Kiev has sent forces to reclaim some of the buildings, but the situation remains fluid.
When contacted about the Greystone allegations, the Russian Embassy in Washington forwarded an article published by the Kremlin-run Voice of Russia news broadcaster. The article discusses a "buildup" of Ukrainian forces in southeastern Ukraine "involving some 150 American mercenaries from Greystone, dressed in uniforms of the Ukrainian special task police unit Sokol."
The Russian Foreign Ministry is quoted in the article as saying that Greystone is an "affiliate body of the Blackwater private army, whose soldiers have been accused of committing rigorous and regular human rights abuses in troubled regions."
The Greystone spokesperson denied the charge. "We're not affiliated with Blackwater," she said. "We've always been that way."
When Foreign Policy pointed out that Greystone's own company website declares that it used to be an "affiliate of what is now Xe Services," the successor to Blackwater, the spokesperson conceded: "I guess if that's what you want to call it."
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