Ukraine crisis: Russia still sending forces to the border, say NATO and United States
Following reports of Russia pulling back troops, North Atlantic Treaty Organization secretary general claimed there was no de-escalation on the ground.
Russia is continuing to send troops to its border with Ukraine, claimed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the United States claimed on Wednesday. NATO added that this was the biggest concentration of forces in Europe since the cold war, The Guardian reported.
Their allegations come amid reports of Russia pulling back some of its troops from the Ukraine border, in what is being seen as a sign of de-escalation.
Since early this year, Russia has amassed over 1 lakh troops at the Ukrainian border. The two countries have been engaged in a conflict since 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and backed separatist rebellions in the country’s eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia was increasing its military force, The Guardian reported. He added that NATO was “prepared for the worst” and was considering sending troops to eastern and central Europe.
“So far we have not seen any de-escalation on the ground,” he said. “On the contrary, it appears that Russia continues the military buildup. What we see is that they have increased the number of troops and more troops are on their way and so, so far, no de-escalation.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that there was a difference between Russia’s promises and actions, The Guardian reported. He added that Russia’s pullback from the border was not meaningful.
“On the contrary, we continue to see forces, especially forces that would be in the vanguard of any renewed aggression against Ukraine, continuing to be at the border, to mass at the border,” he said.
During a press briefing, a senior administration official from the White House said that Russia had sent 7,000 troops to its border with Ukraine on Wednesday.
“We continue to receive indications that they could launch a false pretext at any moment to justify an invasion of Ukraine,” the official said. “That false pretext could take a number of different forms: a provocation in the Donbas; a claim about NATO activity by land, at sea, or in the air; an incursion into Russian territory.”
Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that US Vice President Kamala Harris and Blinken will meet international leaders at the Munich conference in Germany between Thursday and Saturday to unite them against Russia, PTI reported.
US expects India’s backing
The US on Wednesday also said that it hoped for India’s support if Russia invades Ukraine, PTI reported.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Thursday said that there was a strong consensus for a peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis at the Quad ministerial meeting on February 11 in Australia’s Melbourne city.
The Quad is a strategic international group comprising India, Australia, Japan and the US.
“One of the core tenants of the Quad is to reinforce the rules based on international order,” he said. “And that is a rules-based order that applies equally in the Indo-Pacific as it does in Europe as it does anywhere else. We know that our Indian partners are committed to that rules-based international order.”