Russia said on Tuesday some of its military units had returned to their bases after recent exercises Ukrainedays after the US and UK warned that Moscow could invade the neighboring country at any time.
It is not clear how many units have been withdrawn and to what distance, after an estimated 130,000 Russian troops have been reinforced in northern, eastern and southern Ukraine.
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The news drew a cautious response from Ukraine and the UK but prompted a strong rally in financial markets.
“We always say that the troops will return to their bases after the exercises are over. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
He accused the United States of fueling the crisis by warning repeatedly of an impending invasion, to the point where Peskov said President Vladimir Putin joked about it.
“He asked (we) to find out if the exact time for the start of the war had been announced. Peskov told reporters it was incomprehensible about the madness of the information.
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Britain, which along with the United States led the way in warning of impending action, reacted cautiously.
“The Russians have stated that they have no plans for an invasion, but we would need to see a total removal of the army to show that is true,” Foreign Minister Liz Truss said. with LBC radio.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv would only believe Russia was moving to de-escalate the situation if it saw for itself that Russian troops were being pulled back.
“If we see a withdrawal, we will believe in a de-escalation,” he was quoted as saying by Interfax Ukraine.
A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said that while large-scale exercises across the country continued, some units of the southern and western military districts bordering Ukraine had completed their exercises and started returning. base.
The Southern Military District said its forces had begun withdrawing from Crimea and returning to bases after completing exercises on the peninsula that Russia seized from Ukraine in 2014.
Video released by the Ministry of Defense shows several tanks and other armored vehicles being loaded onto the carriages.
Russian shares, government bonds and the ruble, which have been hit by fears of an impending conflict, rallied and Ukrainian government bonds also rallied.
“February 15, 2022 will go down in history as the day the Western war propaganda failed. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
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The latest moves come after commercial satellite photos taken on Sunday and Monday showed a range of Russian military activities at several locations near Ukraine, according to the company’s private company. America released the photos.
US-based Maxar Technologies indicates the arrival of several large deployments of troops and attack helicopters as well as new deployments of ground attack aircraft and fighter-bombers. to the locations ahead.
The Russian Defense Minister said a day earlier that some military exercises were still going on, while others had ended and others were ending. A joint exercise between Russia and Belarus will end on Sunday.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz flew to Moscow on Tuesday to meet Putin at the Kremlin in the latest Western diplomatic tour aimed at finding ways to de-escalate.
Scholz said he would send a message from Western governments that they were open to dialogue over Russia’s security concerns but would impose sanctions if it attacked Ukraine.
The prime minister, who took office in December, traveled to Kyiv on Monday, where he said Germany and its allies were ready for far-reaching and effective coordinated sanctions.
German sanctions could hit Moscow hard, but its status as Russia’s number one trading partner in Europe and the largest consumer of Russian natural gas could also limit its ability to maneuver of Berlin.
Russia has always denied plans to invade, but says it needs the West to take its security concerns seriously about NATO.
“We will not invade Ukraine unless we are provoked to do so,” RIA news agency quoted Russia’s special envoy to the European Union, Vladimir Chizhov, as saying.
“If the Ukrainians launch an attack against Russia, you should not be surprised if we counterattack. Or, if they start blatantly killing Russian citizens anywhere – Donbass or anywhere. ”
The United States has warned Moscow could stage a “false flag” operation to trigger a war. Moscow has accused the West of being hysterical.
https://globalnews.ca/news/8620516/russia-ukraine-some-troop-withdrawal-kremlin/ Kremlin says some Russian troops near Ukraine are returning to base