Russia says some forces pulling back amid Ukraine crisis

Russia says some forces pulling back amid Ukraine crisis

Russia said on Tuesday that some units participating in military exercises would begin returning to their bases, giving a glimmer of hope that the Kremlin is not planning an imminent invasion of Ukraine, though it did not provide any details on the pullback. .

The announcement comes a day after Russia’s foreign minister indicated that the country was ready to talk about the security complaints that led to the Ukraine crisis, leading to a change of term after weeks of escalating tensions.

Still, Western officials continued to warn that an attack could come at any time, saying some forces and military hardware were moving toward the border, worsening the picture.

It was not immediately clear whether the Russian Defense Ministry said exactly where the troops were deployed or how many were going, making it difficult to understand the significance. The announcement pushed world markets and the ruble up, but Ukraine’s leaders expressed skepticism.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said: “Russia continues to make all kinds of statements.” “That’s why we have the rule: We won’t believe when we hear, we’ll believe when we see. When we see soldiers walk out, we’ll believe in de-escalation.”

Russia has gathered more than 130,000 troops near Ukraine, raising fears of an invasion. Russia has denied any plans to invade Ukraine, despite placing troops along Ukraine’s borders to the north, south and east, and launching large-scale military exercises nearby.

With a new ray of hope came a flurry of diplomacy. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz planned to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow a day after he sat down with Ukraine’s leader in Kiev.

Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, one of Russia’s harshest European critics, was also in Moscow on Tuesday to meet Lavrov, while Ukraine’s foreign minister hosted his Italian counterpart.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s remarks came in a televised meeting with Putin and seemed to send a message to the world about the Russian leader’s condition. Despite the West’s refusal to consider Russia’s main demands, the foreign minister argued that Moscow should negotiate more.

“Negotiations cannot go on indefinitely, but I would suggest continuing and expanding them at this stage,” Lavrov said, noting that Washington has raised limits on missile deployments in Europe, a ban on military exercises and others. Have offered to discuss confidence-building. Measure.

Moscow wants guarantees that NATO will not allow Ukraine and other former Soviet countries to join as members. It also wants the coalition to halt the deployment of weapons to Ukraine and withdraw its forces from Eastern Europe.

Lavrov said that the prospects for talks are far from over.

Putin noted that the West could try to drag Russia into “endless talks” and questioned whether there was still a chance to reach an agreement. Lavrov replied that his ministry would not allow the US and its allies to thwart Russia’s main requests.

America reacted coldly. “If Russia chooses to engage constructively, the path of diplomacy remains available,” said Carine Jean-Pierre, the White House’s principal deputy press secretary. “However, we are clear about its prospects, given that Russia is clearly making strides on the ground.”

A possible off-ramp emerged this week: Ukraine’s ambassador to the UK, Vadim Pristyko, pointed to the possibility of Ukraine stalling its NATO bid, an objective enshrined in its constitution if it were to end war with Russia. Will postpone

Prystaiko later appeared to back down from the idea, but the fact that it was picked up at all suggests that it is being discussed behind closed doors.

Even amid signs of hope, the US and European countries continued their warnings.

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss reiterated on Tuesday that the threat of an invasion still exists, telling Sky News it “could be imminent.” But he added that “Vladimir Putin still has time to step off the brink.” Norway’s Foreign Minister Aniken Huitfeldt also issued a similar warning.

US officials have said that Russian forces are continuing to prepare for attacks on Ukraine’s borders. A US defense official said a small number of Russian ground units have been moving out of large assembly constituencies for days, occupying positions close to the Ukrainian border if Putin launches an offensive.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the information not publicly released. CBS News was the first to report on the movement of the units.

Maxar Technologies, a commercial satellite imagery company monitoring Russian buildup, reported an increase in Russian military activity in Belarus, Crimea and western Russia, with forward locations including helicopters, ground attack aircraft and fighters. – Bomber jets included. Photographs taken over a period of 48 hours also showed ground forces leaving their garrisons and combat units in convoy formation.

Nevertheless, the head of the Ukrainian Security and Defense Council, Oleksey Danilov, downplayed the threat of invasion, but warned of the risk of “internal instability” by unspecified forces.

“Today we do not see that a large-scale attack by the Russian Federation could happen on the 16th or 17th,” he told reporters. “We are aware of the risks in our country’s territory. But the situation is under control.”

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