Blinken: US has seen no pullback of Russian forces
The U.S. government has not seen Russian forces pull back from the border with Ukraine and has instead witnessed additional Kremlin units moving toward the former Soviet country, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Wednesday.
“We continue to see critical units moving toward the border, not away from the border,” Blinken told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There’s what Russia says, and then there’s what Russia does, and we haven’t seen any pullback of its forces.”
Russia’s defense ministry earlier on Wednesday said that some 150,000 troops amassed near the border would be making their way back to their bases and released footage that it claimed shows artillery units and tanks departing Crimea, which the Kremlin annexed in 2014. The move appeared to be an effort to ease tensions and fears over a potential imminent, large-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Western officials, however, are skeptical Russia is being honest about its moves, with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also asserting that the alliance did has not seen evidence of a troop withdrawal and that it appears that Russia is “continuing the military buildup.”
The comments follow those made by President Biden on Tuesday, when he said officials had “not yet verified” Russia’s claims that it had pulled back troops and that it was still “very much a possibility” that Moscow could invade.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, has floated a potential diplomatic resolution to the crisis, though he remains firm in his demands that Ukraine not join NATO, calling the alliance an unacceptable security threat.