Russia says it’s returning more troops to their bases
A day after Russia said it pulled back some of its forces away from the Ukrainian border, NATO officials said Moscow is still adding troops to its buildup around the Eastern European nation.
“We have not seen any withdrawal of Russian forces. And of course, that contradicts the message of diplomatic efforts,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters. “What we see is that they have increased the number of troops and more troops are on their way. So, so far, no de-escalation.”
While a feared Russian invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday has not materialized, the United States and its allies maintain that the threat remains strong, with Europe’s security and economic stability in the balance.
Russia’s defense ministry on Wednesday said that some of its forces would be heading back to their bases.
“Combat equipment and military personnel will be delivered by military trains to the units’ permanent deployment points,” Russia’s defense ministry said, according to Reuters. “Upon arrival, the equipment will be serviced and prepared for carrying out the next phase of combat training.”
Russian Defense Ministry video showed a trainload of armored vehicles moving across a bridge away from Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. It also announced that more tank units of the Western Military District were being loaded on trains to move back to their permanent bases after training exercises.
But UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace told Sky News on Wednesday that his office has seen no evidence of a withdrawal.
“In fact, we’ve seen continued buildup of things like field hospitals and strategic weapons systems,” he asserted.
President Joe Biden warned in a Tuesday speech that more than 150,000 Russian soldiers were still massed along Ukraine’s borders. While he said the United States is open to diplomacy with Moscow, Biden issued a warning.
“If Russia does invade in the days and weeks ahead, the human costs for Ukraine will be immense, and the strategic cost for Russia will also be immense,” Biden said. “If Russia attacks Ukraine, to be met with overwhelming international condemnation.”