Russia says more troops and weapons are returning to bases amid Ukraine standoff –

Russia says more troops and weapons are returning to bases amid Ukraine standoff –

Russia said it was returning more troops and weapons to bases, apparently in another move aimed at allaying fears it intends to invade Ukraine.

Moscow’s deployment of some 150,000 troops in eastern, northern and southern Ukraine has raised concerns that the West is planning an attack.

There are no signs of a significant withdrawal of these forces, but this week has seen a handful of gestures from Moscow that give hope that Europe can avoid war after weeks of mounting tensions.

On Wednesday, the Russian Defense Ministry released a video showing an armored train crossing a bridge across the Black Sea Peninsula in Crimea, which Russia annexed to Ukraine in 2014.

He said the move was part of the forces returning to their permanent bases.

The day before, the ministry signaled the beginning of the withdrawal of troops following military exercises near Ukraine, and President Vladimir Putin, signaling that he wants a diplomatic way out of the crisis, stressed that he does not want war and it will rely on negotiations to achieve its goals. The main goal is to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO.

The United States and its allies continued to express doubts about Russia’s intentions, but these moves changed course in the midst of the worst East-West security crisis since the Cold War.

Putin has not committed to a full withdrawal, saying that Russia’s next steps in the stalemate will depend on how the situation develops.

The Russian military did not provide the number of troops or weapons withdrawn and provided a few more details.

President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that US officials had not confirmed Russia’s claim.

“Our analysts indicate that they remain in a very threatening position,” he said in a statement to the White House, but promised that the United States would give diplomacy “every chance”.

On Wednesday, Russian warplanes conducted training missions over Belarus, which borders Ukraine to the north, and paratroopers conducted shooting exercises at the ranges as part of the games, which the West fears will be used as cover to invade the ‘Ukraine.

Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei reiterated that all Russian troops will leave the country at the end of Sunday’s maneuvers.

Russia has denied any invasion plans and mocked the West’s warnings of an impending invasion, calling it “hysteria” and “madness”.

Asked whether Russia would attack on Wednesday, which German newspaper Die Welt cited as a possible date for invasion by Western officials, Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov joked: “Wars in Europe rarely start. Wednesday”.

“There will be no escalation next week, next week or next month,” he said.

Russia wants the West to keep Ukraine and other former Soviet countries out of NATO, stop weapons deployments near Russia’s borders, and withdraw forces from Eastern Europe.

The United States and its allies have rejected these requests, but have offered to initiate talks with Russia on ways to strengthen security in Europe.

Speaking after meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Putin said on Tuesday that the West has agreed to discuss the ban on missile deployment in Europe, restrictions on military exercises and other confidence-building measures that Moscow has presented years. does.

He added that he will only do this in conjunction with “the main issues that are very important to us”.

Scholz also said diplomatic options were “far from being exhausted” and hailed the announcement of the troop withdrawal as a “good sign” and said: “We hope others follow.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said so far there has been no sign of a reduced military presence on Ukraine’s borders.

Ukrainian leaders have repeatedly tried to convey calm and strength at the same time during the crisis.

In a show of determination, President Volodymyr Zelenski declared a “day of national unity” on Wednesday, urging citizens to wave blue and yellow flags and sing the national anthem in the face of “hybrid threats”.

Source: Wales Online