Blinken, Secretary of State, stated Wednesday that the U.S. has not witnessed any Russian force withdraw from the Ukrainian border.
According to the Pentagon, Russian fighter jets swarmed US spy planes in the Mediterranean over the weekend as tensions rose over Ukraine.
Officials from defense said that the three Russian Su-35 aircraft fighters flew into the airspace of three U.S. P-8A surveillance airplanes flying in international waters, Friday night and Saturday.
According to the White House, there’s no evidence Vladimir Putin has pulled his troops back from the Ukrainian frontier. However Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that Russia is advancing its military units.
Kristina Khvien (the top U.S. diplomat for Ukraine) referred Wednesday to Russia as “bullies” and stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin is not lying when he has amassed thousands of troops at the Ukrainian border.
‘I fear he’s not,’ said Kristina Kvien, the charge d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, in comments to Fox News.
Speaking from Lviv near the border where U.S. diplomats have been relocated from Kiev, she said.
Blinken claimed Wednesday morning, that Vladimir Putin has been moving vital military units towards Ukraine’s border. He said this without pointing out any evidence that Russia is claiming it is withdrawing troops.
Blinken said that the West needs to see the contrary of Kremlin motives, and warned Moscow it could still pull the trigger at any moment.
The White House was scrambling to come up with a diplomatic solution to Tuesday’s announcement by President Biden, who pledged to protect NATO allies and threatened Moscow that he would respond “forcefully” if America or its people were attacked.
Officials from the White House were also sent to Middle East by officials in an effort to pressure Saudi Arabia to continue pumping oil. A Russian invasion of Ukraine would cause prices to soar even more.
After his visit to Moscow, President Biden will call German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Sergei Lavrov, the Kremlin’s highest diplomat, said that he is ‘puzzled by the hyperbole’ about the prospect of military conflict.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg agreed with Blinken about the assessment of troops.
“We haven’t seen Russian forces withdraw.” That contradicts the message of real diplomatic efforts,’ he told reporters. They’ve increased troop strength and they are adding more. There is currently no deescalation.
Ukrainians also defied pressure from Moscow with a national show of flag-waving unity to coincide with the rumored date of Putin’s invasion.
Volodymyr Zelensky, President of the Russian Federation stated that ‘we cannot defend our homeland unless we remain united’
Blinken stated Wednesday that Russia has not seen any pulling back of its forces. Morning Joe.
Blinken claimed that Russian troops are’remaining massed at a very threatening manner along Ukraine’s borders. We would love to see them follow through with what they have said.
“We see these forces continue to mass and we continue to observe critical units moving towards the border, but not away from it. We need to observe the exact opposite. These forces must be seen moving away,” Blinken said.
He said President Vladimir Putin could ‘pull the trigger’ at any time – in further comments to ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’, appearing on a day that had been forecast for a possible invasion.
He stated that the ‘vanguard’ of any new aggression against Ukraine was still being led by forces and continued to “mass at its border” while noting that there had been a’significant pullback’ from the U.S.
“We claimed that we existed in a time window in which an invasion could happen at any given moment. Putin created the capability to react quickly. Blinken indicated that Putin could pull the trigger. He could pull it off today. He might pull it off tomorrow. It is possible that he will pull it off next week. He could use the force if he wanted to renew his aggression against Ukraine.
His remarks come a day after President Joe Biden said the U.S. has been unable to verify the Russian claims – and said used a number for the estimated Russian troop level that was 20,000 higher than the previous figure.
Biden spoke out after referring to a Russian Defense Ministry declaration about moving some units back home. However, he said that it would be a good idea, and we still haven’t verified this. However, we haven’t yet confirmed that Russian military units were returning to their bases. Our analysts suggest that the situation is still very threatening. And the fact remains: Right now, Russia has more than 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine in Belarus and along Ukraine’s border.’
Russian claims of pulling back certain forces have been denied by the U.S. Moscow showed footage of tanks returning to their base from the Western Military District.
Moscow claims that Russian troops leaving Crimea have returned to South Ossetia or Dagestan and some soldiers are being relocated – although not too far.
Ukrainian fighter-bomb jets take part in training exercises Povursk airfield in the country’s west as national ‘unity day’ protests take place in defiance of Russian threats
A Ukrainian tank takes part in live-fire drills near the city of Rivne, in the country’s west, on Thursday as thousands of Russian troops mass in the east
A 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division Soldier establishes an operation base near Zamosc in Poland. These soldiers are part of the NATO troops that President Biden sent to Eastern Europe as support for NATO allies.
On Wednesday, US soldiers were able to disembark from the C-17 Globemaster cargo aircraft at Rzeszow Jasionka Airport in south east Poland.
Officials from the United States have indicated that Moscow is evaluating a variety of factors as it mass troops. This includes whether there are enough frozen ground available to transport its heavy armor.
But Russia’s ambassador to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, added another factor in comments to German paper Die Welt. He stated that “Wars in Europe rarely begin on Wednesdays.”
“As far Russia’s concern, I can guarantee you that there will not be any attack this Wednesday,” he said. “There won’t be any escalation either in this week, in the next week, or the month after that.”
Officials in the United States are not likely to accept any claims made by Moscow as true. Ned Price, spokesperson at the State Department, spoke repeatedly Wednesday about Russian disinformation’ in remarks to CNN.
“We have a good understanding of the Russian game plan. We are aware that the Russians have been involved in misinformation, disinformation. Price claimed that we have reason to believe the Russians say one thing, and do another to try to hide the truth.
Sergei Lavrov has been leading talks with NATO and USA. He said Wednesday in Moscow that Russia’s “hysteria” over an invasion of its territory is “puzzling”, while accusing his allies to trying to determine where Putin will place troops.
He spoke after the UK on Tuesday threatened to block Russian companies from raising capital in London and to expose the owners of properties and companies – a loophole that some Russians use to hide wealth in this country.
After Moscow announced Tuesday that it would withdraw some troops and is open to talks about new European security agreements, his comments are the start of renewed East-West negotiations over Ukraine’s fate.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg stated earlier this day that he had not seen any evidence that Russia’s withdrawal was genuine. He also dismissed videos showing tanks being removed as routine troop movements. He added that Russia seems to be expanding its military forces.
“If they actually start to withdraw, then that is something we would welcome,” he said. However, that is yet to be determined. He was referring to the NATO summit meeting in Brussels. “Seeing battle tank movements doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a withdrawal.”
As he arrived at the summit, Ben Wallace (UK defence secretary) made a similar warning. He stated that Russia’s forces are at an elevated level of readiness and can be sustained for weeks as long as negotiations resume at the gun’s barrel.
A Ukrainian tank takes part in live-fire exercises near the city of Rivne, in the country’s west, amid continued fears that Russia is positioning itself to attack
Ukrainian soldiers wear anti-tank guns and take part in an exercise with an armoured vehicle.
Tank shells explode as they hit fake vehicles during target practice by Ukraine’s military near the city of Rivne today
A 650ft Ukrainian flag was unfurled at Kiev’s Olympic Stadium by hundreds of Ukrainians as part of the ‘unity day celebrations’ on Wednesday
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zeleskiy attends a drill for Ukrainian soldiers in order to demonstrate his support
As Zelenskiy attends the tactical military exercises of the country’s Armed Forces at Rivne in its west, he examines the weapons.
Ukrainian soldiers pose during “unity day” celebrations defiance Russia in Odessa in southern Ukraine
Analysts from Conflict Intelligence Team, a trusted group that tracks Russian military movements, expressed concern about Russian withdrawal. They said Russian forces would be withdrawn from Crimea and moved to Ukraine.
Moscow states that units are being relocated to their home bases, however the residences of at least three of four of the expelled units in Crimea may be closer or the same as their position with Ukraine.
According to Izvestia, units from the 42nd, 43rd and 150th Motorised Rifle divisions were sent home to their permanent bases.
The 3rd, however, is located at Valuyki or Boguchar respectively. They are respectively approximately 15 and 42 miles away from the Ukrainian border in Belgorod or Voronezh respectively.
It is located 31 miles away from the border in Novocherkassk (Rostov Region), where it is called “The 150th.”
Their permanent barracks will have troops as close to or near the border as possible.
The three named divisions that were pulled out Crimea are the 42nd and the last – both in Chechnya. This is about 700 miles from Ukraine.
This comes just days after Putin stated that he was willing to negotiate with the West regarding security guarantees to reduce tensions.
While both Mr Stoltenburg as well as Mr Wallace appreciated the new tone coming from Moscow, they also pointed out the fact that this crisis is not over.
Wallace stated that there are over 100 tactical units of Russian ground forces. This is 60 percent of Russia’s total land combat power along the border of Ukraine.
Sergei Lavrov (Russia’s chief negotiator and foreign minister) has threatened to retaliate against the UK if new sanctions were imposed on Moscow in relation to Ukraine
Russia posted footage showing tanks being’removed’ from Crimea. NATO, however, claims that it does not see any indication they will be leaving.
Ukrainian fighter planes take part in live-fire drills at the Povursk airfield in western Ukraine as they prepare for the possibility of an invasion by Russia
A Ukrainian fighter jet is pictured on the runway at Povursk airfield as it takes part in live-fire drills on Wednesday
During training exercises, Ukrainian jets destroyed a fake tank column during Wednesday’s drills.
A view from the cockpit of a Ukrainian fighter shows several other jets flying together during drills today in Ukraine’s west.
The number of troops deployed in Belarus, Ukraine and elsewhere is over 130,000, with a considerable flotilla consisting of amphibious and Russian landing vessels, as well as warships and missile ships.
“From the Ukrainian perspective, they are fairly surrounded with a large force of ready soldiers. They are not taking the gas to their feet, however.
He said, “That’s why all of us are here today at NATO to work together to lower tensions and to de-escalate.”
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, joined in, saying he had not seen “any withdrawal yet”.
Putin calls for Ukraine’s exclusion from NATO, and the withdrawal of troops from exSoviet nations by the alliance.
While both of these demands have been rejected, a number of compromises were offered to Putin on issues such as arms control, transparency regarding missile deployments and information-sharing about military drills. Putin stated that he was open to discussing any of them.
Sergei Lavrov is Russia’s chief negotiator as well as foreign minister. He stated that the Russian Foreign Minister has prepared a 10-page reply to NATO offers but it has yet not been sent.
Wladimir Klitschko (Kiev Mayor) has expressed his hope for a “last-minute” diplomatic solution between Russia, Ukraine.
LBC was informed by the ex-heavyweight world champion that he hopes Russia does not invade Russia on Wednesday.
He stated that it was the first time ever in Ukraine’s history that so many Russian soldiers have remained at the border.
The risk of aggression toward Ukraine is quite high. All scenarios are possible.
“We don’t know what the future holds, but we do hope the invasion doesn’t happen and that we can find a diplomatic solution at the very last moment.”
Meanwhile the former head of MI6 Sir John Sawers said that the threat of a ‘full-blooded’ Russian invasion has now ‘receded’ after Putin made ‘a number of important gains’ in the military standoff.
Russia released images showing tanks loaded onto train transports. Moscow claimed they were returning to their permanent base.
Russian tanks are seen sitting on trains as Moscow asserts that troops are being pulled away from the front. But NATO has raised doubts.
Sir John, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, stated that Putin is always “very dangerous” and that there was no threat of invasion.
He said, “I don’t think President Putin ever wanted to invade Russia.”
“But I think Russia also came out of this having a number of significant gains,” he stated. Russia’s security worries have been relegated to the top international security agenda. Ukraine has been intimidated while Europe has been reminded just how dependent it is on Russian gas.
Sir John also said that President Putin may think he has the upper hand on certain points, and that he still retains a number of military options which can be used in Ukraine.
“I believe the risk of full blooded invasion… wasn’t quite as high than was being portrayed in some Western countries, but it has diminished.”
During the crisis, Ukrainian leaders repeatedly tried to show strength and calm.
As a show of defiance President Volodymyr Zilenskyy announced Wednesday as a “day of national unity,” calling for citizens to fly the blue-and yellow flags and sing the national anthem against ‘hybrid threats’.
Biden stated that 150,000 Russian troops are currently positioned near Ukraine and Belarus, a significant increase on the earlier estimate by the U.S. of 130,000 soldiers.
Biden stated that Russia claimed it had pulled back its troops, although they haven’t yet confirmed that. “Indeed,” Biden said, “Our analysts suggest that they still remain in a very threatening position.”
Russia denied any invading plans. Russia wants to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO. It also demands that the West stop weapons installations near Russian borders.
The U.S. government and allies strongly refuted these demands. But, Russia offered to meet with them to discuss ways of bolstering security in Europe.
Following a meeting with Olaf Scholz (German Chancellor), Putin indicated that the West was willing to have a discussion about the ban on European missile deployments, the restriction on military drills, and other confidence-building measures. These are issues Moscow had brought to the table many years back.
While he said Russia was open to discussing’some of these elements’, he also stated that Russia would only do this in conjunction with the major issues of greatest importance to Russia.
Scholz reiterated the fact that NATO’s expansion to eastward is not on their agenda, but Putin countered that such assurances would not satisfy Moscow.
Putin stated that “They’re telling us it won’t happen tomorrow.” “Well, when is it going to happen?” It will happen tomorrow. It changes our historical perspective. Nothing.’
Scholz said that diplomatic options are still available and called for a withdrawal of troops. He also stated, “We hope that more will follow.”
Russian Defense Ministry published images showing howitzers and tanks being rolled onto rail platforms, and other tanks moving across snowy terrain.
Other than the ‘to permanent deployment’, it did not say where and when they were taken or what the vehicle’s destination.
Russian tanks in Crimea return to their homes after conducting training exercises. This is Putin’s signal that he wants to talk with the West
Ukrainians gather around a huge flagpole in the city of Kramatorsk, near the breakaway region of Donetsk, to celebrate a national ‘unity day’ in defiance of Russian threats
A child walks underneath a giant Ukrainian flag in the city of Sievierodonetsk, near the breakaway region of Luhansk, during a national ‘unity day’
Russian Navy vessel Dmitry Rogachev sails through the Bosphorus Strait via Turkey on its way to the Black Sea amid warnings that Putin continues to build his forces
Ukraine expressed doubt.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, stated that while we won’t believe what we hear, our faith will be strengthened by the things we see.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated that so far there has not been any indication of an increase in military presence at Ukraine’s borders.
A series of cyberattacks hacked the sites of major banks, defense ministries, and the Ukrainian army.
The low-level, denial of service attacks were not a sign that they might just be an excuse for more severe cyber-attacks.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, stated that the U.S. still hasn’t determined the perpetrators of the attack.
Even though tensions between the East and West have been at their worst for many decades, Russians don’t expect war. Residents of a Russian village located in the Belgorod region were able to continue their lives as normal, even though more soldiers passed through the streets.
Lyudmila Nechvolod, a villager, stated that “We really are on the border. We really have relatives there and there. Everyone has somebody.” “No one wishes war.”
Russian legislators urged Putin not to recognise rebel-held territories in the east of Ukraine as separate states. Russia’s lower House, the State Duma (Russia), voted to make an appeal to Putin in this regard.
Putin explained that Putin’s request was meant to show sympathy for those suffering in conflict in Ukraine which has resulted in over 14,000 deaths since 2014.
However, he noted that Russia still believes that a 2015 deal between France and Germany is the best vehicle to resolve the separatist conflict.
Russian military vehicles can be seen crossing a bridge linking Crimea with Russia. This is amid reports of a draw-down.
The Russian defense ministry released images that appear to show tanks moving away from the frontlines of Ukraine. However, western leaders insist the threat is still present.
Tanks can be seen at the Malyshev Transport Engineering Plant in Ukraine during a media visit
The Russian bridge that connects Crimea with Russia appears to have been hit by a Lada, which seems to be a military vehicle leaving Crimea.
With plans to place 4,000 soldiers on Europe’s South-Eastern Borders, West is at risk of Russian fury
ByDavid Averre For Mailonline
Today’s meeting of the Western Defence Ministers will take place in Brussels. They are expected to discuss how to strengthen eastern Europe using more NATO troops, despite Russia’s willingness to pull out from its border with Ukraine.
Four new battle groups of 1000 troops would be deployed along the eastern front of the alliance, the first in Romania. This move directly violates Russia’s demand that the West decrease its military presence at its borders.
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the proposal is being drawn up due to Russia’s recent aggression near Ukraine and its ‘lasting impact of the security situation in Europe’.
There are concerns that Russian President Vladimir Putin or Sergey Shoigu will not approve of the plans. Moscow also declared it doesn’t want to go to war with Ukraine, and started withdrawing its armoured vehicles.
NATO’s planned deployment of as many as 4,000 troops to Russia is the largest show of aggression against Russia in six decades.
The West’s defence ministers will discuss how to strengthen eastern Europe by adding more NATO troops, despite Russia’s willingness to pull out from its border with Ukraine. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, stated the idea is being made due to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine’s past and its “lasting impact on the security situation of Europe” (Boris Johnson right).
Russian President Vladimir Putin is worried about the plan, as Sergey Shoigu (Defense Minister) has already begun withdrawing its armoured vehicles and tanks from the frontline.
This plan could see four new battlegroups deploy to the eastern front of the alliance, the first in Romania. It directly violates Russia’s demand that the West decrease its military presence at its borders (Ukrainian troops, Feb 10, 2022).
Discussions around the proposal to introduce more NATO troops in eastern Europe comes as Moscow began withdrawing armoured vehicles from the frontline (Russian armoured vehicles are loaded onto railway platforms after the end of military drills in South Russia – Feb. 15, 2022)
The plans come as an extension of a 2016 agreement which saw the alliance deploy battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
France would lead the new deployment, installing troops in Romania and a NATO-commanded battle group in Bulgaria.
Stoltenberg declared that NATO was not responding only to the present crisis; we will also be considering long-term adjustments in our position towards the east.
‘Defence ministers will address the need to further increase our defensive posture… it will take some time until we have all the decisions in place.’
Some NATO nations are reluctant to host allies battlegroups, as demonstrated by the recent refusal of Hungarian President Viktor Orban or Defence Minister Tibor Benenko to receive troops.
Although Hungary is a NATO member, it has strong relationships with Russia. It heavily relies on Moscow to supply gas and provide financial and technical support for its nuclear energy program.
However, Western defense ministers will likely give their approval to military commanders. They will create a plan to deploy the four new combat groups strategically.
Moscow could be alarmed by the move, as it signals to Putin that NATO does not intend to take into account Russia’s security needs – an obstacle crucial to calming tensions between East and West.
Russian authorities submitted a series of unsatisfactory demands in December. They sought assurances from NATO and Western powers to ensure that Ukraine and other exSoviet states would not be accepted into the alliance.
Moscow demanded NATO stop deploying weapons near Russian borders, and that it withdraw forces from Eastern Europe.
Last month, Tibor Benko (Hungarian Defense Minister) stated that NATO does not need to send troops to Hungary due to tensions over Ukraine. Prime Minister Viktor Orban also met earlier in the month with Putin to discuss increased gas imports. Although Hungary is a NATO member, it enjoys strong relationships with Russia and relies heavily on Moscow for both its gas supply and technical and financial support.
US, UK, and Western Allies offered to meet with Russia to discuss how they can reach mutually acceptable security agreements.
The plans to be discussed in Brussels today, however, would indicate a rejection for some of Moscow’s most significant demands.
Speaking after meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz yesterday, Putin said the West agreed to discuss a ban on missile deployment to Europe and added that Russia is open to discuss ‘some of those elements,’ but insisted it would do so only in combination ‘with the main issues that are of primary importance for us.’
Putin was asked if there might be war in Europe. He said Russia didn’t want that, but Ukraine’s attempt to join NATO presented a significant security risk to Russia and the West had yet to give a constructive answer.
The President stated, “Of course we do not want war,” This is why we made the suggestion to initiate negotiations where there should be an agreement that ensures equal security for all, not just our country.
“Unfortunately there was not a constructive reply to this proposal.”
Today’s footage shows Russian armored vehicles being removed from Crimea, South Russia. They were involved in large-scale military drills. Russian officials assure that the troops will be pulled from Ukraine’s borders.
Olaf Scholz, German Chancellor is seen sitting with Putin (left), in the Kremlin yesterday. Scholz is the latest foreign leader who has been given the “long table treatment” – to facilitate talks that aim at deescalating crisis.
The footage of Russian-made armoured vehicles being taken from Crimea and Southern Russia, where they participated in large-scale military drills, was captured today by the Russian authorities. They also assured that they are pulling back troops from Ukraine’s border.
The West has been skeptical about the apparent reduction in military force. It is believed that it is part of a scheme to launch smaller operations in areas of Eastern Ukraine, where Russian separatists have been fighting.
Joe Biden, the US President said that Russia’s claim of withdrawing from NATO was a good idea. However, we are yet to verify this.
“Indeed,” our analysts indicated that they still remain in a very threatening place.
Russia is not threatened by Ukraine. The US and NATO do not have any missiles against Ukraine. They do not and do not plan to place them. The Russian people are not our target. We do not seek to destabilise Russia.’
Russia’s apparent military scale-back is being treated with extreme scepticism in the West, where intelligence agencies suspect is could be part of a ruse to launch a smaller military operation in the regions of Eastern Ukraine where Russian separatists are fighting (left: Joe Biden, right: Boris Johnson)
Boris Johnson (British Prime Minister) accused Putin for sending mixed messages and claimed that the intelligence we have seen today was still disappointing. More battalion tactical units are being moved closer to the border. Everyone needs to be able to clearly see a program of de-escalation.
Ukraine was also skeptical about Russia’s declarations of a pullback.
“We don’t believe in what we hear; we will believe what we see.” Dmytro Kuleba, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, stated that when we see the troops leaving, we will believe in de-escalation.
Stoltenberg claimed that there have been no signs of a reduction in Russian military presence along the border of Ukraine. He also stated that the allies want to see an enduring and significant withdrawal of heavy equipment and troops.