Russia announced on Tuesday morning that it will withdraw some troops from near the Ukrainian border, leading to “cautious optimism” by NATO and Ukrainian leaders amidst growing concerns of a Vladimir Putin-led invasion of the former Soviet country.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO chief executive, noted the move is a sign for cautious optimism after weeks of increased tensions.
“There are signs from Moscow that diplomacy should continue. This gives grounds for cautious optimism. But so far we have not seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground from the Russian side,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday morning.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s defense minister, said regarding the news of Russian withdrawal, “We have a rule: don’t believe what you hear, believe what you see. When we see a withdrawal, we will believe in a de-escalation.”
The Wall Street Journal announced that the pullback of troops still leaves over 120,000 Russian troops in the region.
“Russia’s Defense Ministry said it had pulled back some troops from near Ukraine while noting that large-scale military maneuvers were continuing and Western officials warned that combat units were moving into forward positions,” it reported.
“The announced pullback scales down a total force that is still estimated to number more than 120,000, and came amid a new round of shuttle diplomacy aimed at defusing the crisis. Moscow has warned of unspecified consequences if the U.S. and its allies reject its security demands,” the report added.
A BBC report also warned that there may not be anything new regarding the troop movements.
“We have always said that after the exercises are over… troops would return to their permanent bases. There’s nothing new here. This is a usual process,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to the BBC.
The new reports also follow discussions between Putin and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who traveled to Russia for negotiations. Scholz’s trip to Russia followed his visit to Kyiv on Monday to negotiate a diplomatic resolution to tensions between the two countries.
U.S. Department of State Antony Blinken shared on Monday that the U.S. “is in the process of temporarily relocating our Embassy operations in Ukraine from our Embassy in Kyiv to Lviv due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces.”
“In the meantime, I have ordered these measures for one reason – the safety of our staff – and we strongly urge any remaining U.S. citizens in Ukraine to leave the country immediately,” Blinken concluded, sharing a link to an online form those “seeking emergency assistance in Ukraine” should use, after which “the State Department will follow-up, as appropriate.”
Just in: Blinken announces that the US “is in the process of temporarily relocating our Embassy operations in Ukraine from our Embassy in Kyiv to Lviv due to the dramatic acceleration in the buildup of Russian forces.” Kyiv embassy closing for now. pic.twitter.com/5VHTumr2cX
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) February 14, 2022
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also said on Monday that his country expected to be attacked by Russia this week, according to a CNN report. The Daily Wire reported on Monday:
In the following translated Facebook post, Zelensky said that the Ukrainian government has been informed that an invasion will be launched in two days, on Wednesday, February 16:
Great people of a great country! There have been serious external and internal challenges in front of our country, which require responsibility, confidence and concrete actions from me and each of us.
We are intimidated by a great war and once again set the date of the military invasion. This is not the first time. But our state is stronger today than ever.
However, after Zelensky’s remarks, Ukrainian officials said he was being “ironic.”
CNN has been told by Mykhailo Podoliak, a Presidential adviser, that Zelensky was being ironic with his comment –> https://t.co/RtPtmZOnyf
— Kylie Atwood (@kylieatwood) February 14, 2022
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