US and NATO say Russia is building troops near Ukraine, not withdrawing
- Russia claims that it has video footage of tanks leaving Crimea
- NATO claims that more troops are coming
- Ukraine’s defense ministry is under cyber attack
- More than 150,000 troops are still being threatened by the United States
MOSCOW/KYIV (Reuters) – The United States of America and NATO claimed that Russia was still building troops around Ukraine on Wednesday despite Moscow insisting it was withdrawing back. This was in direct contradiction to President Vladimir Putin’s declared desire to find a solution to the crisis.
The government of Ukraine claimed that a cyber attack on the defense ministry was the worst that it had ever seen. This led to people raising flags and playing the national anthem in Ukraine, which is demonstrating unity against the fear of invasion. Russia was denied involvement. Read more
Russian defense ministry stated that its forces were withdrawing from exercises in the western and southern military areas near Ukraine. It was part of an enormous build-up, which was accompanied by demands to receive broad security guarantees.
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It published video showing tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and self-propelled gunship units leaving the Crimean peninsula. Moscow took it from Ukraine in 2014.
Antony Blinken, U.S. Secretary Of State, said that key Russian units were moving towards border and not away.
“There are two things Russia can say. Then there is what Russia does. “And we haven’t seen any pullbacks of its forces,” Blinken stated in an interview on MSNBC. “We continue seeing critical units moving towards the border, and not away from it,” Blinken said in an interview on MSNBC.
Senior Western intelligence officials said that the risk of Russian aggression towards Ukraine would continue to be high throughout February, and Russia could still attack Ukraine without warning.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg claimed that moving troops and tanks backwards and forwards was not evidence of a pullout.
“We have not seen any Russian forces being withdrawn.” Stoltenberg stated this before the meeting of the alliance in Brussels. “What we see, is that they have increased their troops and more troops on the way. So, so far, no de-escalation.”
Stoltenberg said later that NATO could prove Russia’s failures to withdraw its troops using satellite images. Read more
Oleksii Reznikov (Ukraine’s Defence Minister) said that his country’s most recent intelligence report showed no indication of a Russian pullback. He stated that the combined strength of Russian military forces and pro-Russian separatist troops near Ukraine’s borders was approximately 140,000.
According to the Kremlin, NATO’s assessment was incorrect. Moscow’s Ambassador to Ireland claimed that forces in west Russia would return to their normal positions in three to four weeks.
The world stock market fell on Wednesday as investors reacted nervously to the absence of any tangible evidence of Ukraine tensions being reduced. Oil and gold, however, rose. Read more
Russia denies that it intended to attack Ukraine. However, it is laying down “redlines” to prevent its neighbor from joining NATO. It considers this a threat and a threat.
According to the Kremlin Putin expressed willingness to negotiate with the United States. They have offered talks on arms control, confidence-building measures and discussed arm control. However, they have ruled out any veto over future NATO membership of Ukraine.
Russia said that it is ready to reroute its energy exports to other markets in the event it is hit by sanctions. This was a threat Washington and its allies made if Ukraine invades.
Anton Siluanov, Finance Minister, stated that sanctions against Russian banks will be “unpleasant”, but that the state would ensure all deposits and transactions with banks were secure. Read more
Russia accuses the United States of war propaganda and hyperbolic warnings after reports in Western media that an attack was imminent.
On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden stated that more than 150,000 Russian troops remained near Ukraine’s borders. An invasion was still “definitely possible”.
According to military analysts, this would lead to a significant pullback in fuel and field stores, as well as units from Russia’s Far East, which are currently participating in exercises in Belarus, returning home to bases thousands of kilometers away.
Mark Galeotti, Russia security specialist, stated that an attack was not a guarantee that Putin blinks.
He wrote that Putin could have invaded the country yesterday and that he can still do it tomorrow,” he tweeted.
DAY OF UNITY
The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zilenskiy made Wednesday a patriotic holiday to respond to Russian reports of an invasion. “No one can love our country as much as we can. He said that only we can all protect our home together. Read more
According to the defence ministry, hackers are still attacking its website and have found vulnerabilities. Traffic was being rerouted to servers located in the United States while the problem is being resolved.
Senior Ukrainian security officials stated that Russia is the only country interested. Although Russia denied involvement, the Kremlin said that it wasn’t surprised that Ukraine would blame Moscow.
Dmitry Peskov (Kremlin spokesperson) said Putin had “taken notice” of the request of Russia’s parliament to him to recognize “independence of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed rebels have been fighting Ukrainian government troops since 2014.
He said this would not be in line with the agreements to end the conflict. Ukraine claims that 15,000 people were killed in the conflict. This suggests that Putin might not rush to recognize the separatist areas, but may keep the option in reserve.
Blinken said such a step would undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, violate international law and “necessitate a swift and firm response from the United States in full coordination with our Allies and partners”.