Defense

NATO secretary says it sees no effort of Russian de-escalation on Ukraine border

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Tuesday said the alliance sees no effort of de-escalation of Russian military presence around the Ukrainian border after the Kremlin announced the withdrawal of some troops.

“So far, we have not seen any de-escalation on the ground, not seen any signs of reduced Russian military presence on the borders of Ukraine, but we will continue to monitor, to follow closely what Russia is doing,” Stoltenberg said when asked about the Russian announcement about withdrawing some troops. 

“The signs coming from Moscow about willingness to engage with diplomatic efforts, that gives some reason for cautious optimism.” 

Russia’s defense ministry said early Tuesday morning that some troops will return to their bases after completing exercises near Ukraine, though it was unclear how many of the troops will be pulling out. 

Russian troops are also conducting military drills in Belarus that are scheduled to end on Sunday.

The Kremlin has amassed over 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border, sparking fears that it was planning a military offensive against the former Soviet state. Moscow, however, has denied having such intentions.

Ukraine expressed skepticism of the withdrawal announcement on Tuesday.

“We in Ukraine have a rule: we don’t believe what we hear, we believe what we see,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter. “If a real withdrawal follows these statements, we will believe in the beginning of a real de-escalation.”

Tags NATO troop buildup troop withdrawal

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