A source from the White House said that Russia has not only withdrawn its forces, but has added at least another “7,000 soldiers” to the border with Ukraine. The official US source added that some new forces arrived on Wednesday and described Moscow’s announcement of withdrawal as “false.” The source concluded that Russia might launch an operation “at any time” as a false pretext to invade Ukraine. US Vice President Kamala Harris meets with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz have urged Moscow to take concrete steps to defuse tensions, warning that a significant withdrawal of Russian forces from the Ukrainian border has not yet been observed. The two leaders said, according to a statement issued by the German chancellor after a phone call between the two allies, that “Russia should take concrete steps towards de-escalation.” In their phone call, Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz discussed “their conversations with Russian President Putin and Ukrainian Zelensky about the continued Russian military build-up on Ukraine’s borders.” This was announced by the White House. The two leaders “reaffirmed their commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and stressed the importance of continued transatlantic coordination on diplomacy, deterrence measures and the strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank if Russia invaded Ukraine.”
At the moment, the war of nerves is only going on between the West and Vladimir Putin on the Ukrainian border. In the wake of the Kremlin’s announcement of the partial termination of exercises and the return of soldiers to their bases, NATO still sees “the non-withdrawal of Russian troops from the borders of Ukraine. On the contrary – the Secretary-General of the Alliance Jens Stoltenberg accused during the meeting of the Minister of Defense in Brussels – Moscow is sending other forces”. In short, the West, satellite imagery in hand, fears the Tsar’s bluff and has today shown itself united as never before in rejecting the Russian hybrid offensive to force Europe, the USA and NATO to take on a new security framework. With the coalition considering a “long-term” strengthening of the eastern flank and Italy, it is represented by Minister Lorenzo Guerini, who said he is “ready to do his part” in sending troops to deter. Of course, there are signs of a diplomatic opening from Moscow, which all leaders are aware of. “After the words, we now need the facts,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen summarized. If it is relaxing, it is in slow motion. The words of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also confirm: “Russian troops do not really go, they take turns,” he warned, almost adding that his country “fears nothing and no one” and is ready to defend itself. Welcoming the 30 Allied defense ministers at headquarters, Stoltenberg did not surprisingly define Russia’s “military threats” as an attempt to impose a “new normal” in the East. And get concessions. But he also declared “cautious optimism” about Putin’s willingness to continue the path of diplomacy. In Crimea, on the other hand, images re-launched by the media show Russian vehicles leaving the peninsula – which was annexed in 2014 – across the bridge built by the Rotenberg brothers (at great cost), newly minted oligarchs and great shots of The Magic Circle of Vladimir Putin. . The Ministry of Defense also announced that upon the end of joint exercises with Belarus (February 20), the troops will return to their homeland. “I would like to ask the American and British sources of disinformation to publish the program of our upcoming invasions for this year: I would like to plan my vacations,” State Department spokeswoman Maria Zakharova strongly criticized. The invasion that was so feared to be anticipated by Washington and London until about the appointed time, did not actually materialize. But for a column of tanks returning to hangars, another training begins, this time in the Mediterranean. With nuclear-capable long-range bombers and combat aircraft armed with hypersonic missiles located at the Syrian Hmeimim Air Base. Moscow, for its part, is now playing the counter-accusations card. It is the West that supplies Ukraine with weapons to “push it into war” or “provocation” in the Donbass, and at the same time Joe Biden’s offer to continue the dialogue is considered “positive.” Putin then rejected for the time being the Duma’s request to recognize the pro-Russian separatist republics of Donetsk and Luhansk as “incompatible” with the Treaty of Minsk. As if to say: We respect agreements. The words of peace also come from the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell (certainly not a Russian), who called on us to consider Russia’s “legitimate concerns” regarding security. Anyway, the understanding ends here. Borrell spoke explicitly of a “clash of values” between the “democratic” West and “authoritarian Russia”, which fears Ukraine’s success because it would be a defeat for its model. Then the coordination continues: tomorrow the informal EU Council on the Ukraine crisis, the meeting at NATO with its counterparts in Ukraine and Georgia, and on Saturday the G7 foreign ministers meeting will take place. In the evening, there was another phone call between Biden and Olaf Schultz, while Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio was in Moscow to meet with Sergey Lavrov after a layover on Tuesday in Kiev. The European Union has promised that it will “never give up” on the Ukrainian people, but Berlin does not hide its willingness to meet with the Kremlin in some aspects. Like the long waits about the possible entry of Kiev into NATO, which, however, Russia asserts that it cannot accept now or ever.
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