As Ukrainians waved flags in a show of challenge of a feared Russian invasionthe United States reported that Moscow had added up to 7,000 soldiers to the forces stationed along the tense border – a warning which contradicts Kremlin statements that military units were fired back.
A Russian invasion of Ukraine did not materialize on Wednesday, as on initially feared him. But after a handful of positive signals from Moscow that eased tensions earlier in the week, the pendulum seemed to swing in the opposite direction again.
Western allies argued that the menace of a attack was strong, with about 150,000 or more Russian troops surround the country on three sides.
In the heart of the crisis are Russia’s demands that the West keep Ukraine and other former Soviet nations out of NATO, halt weapons deployments near Russian borders and roll back Eastern European forces. The United States and its allies flatly rejected these demands, but offered to engage in talks with Russia on ways to enhance security in Europe.
Although Russia said it was firing back a few troops, a senior US administration official said some forces had only recently arrived and there had been a marked increase in false Russian claims that the Kremlin could use as a pretext for a invasion. the official said these allegations included reports of unmarked graves of civilians allegedly killed by Ukrainian forces, claims that the United States and Ukraine are developing biological or chemical weapons, and claims that the West is channeling in guerrillas to kill Ukrainians.
the official was not authorized to speak publicly about sensitive operations and spoke to The Associated Press (AP) on state of anonymity. the official did not provide underlying evidence for the assertions.
“We haven’t seen any backsliding,” the U.S. secretary said. of State Antony Blinken told ABC News, saying Russian President Vladimir Putin “can pull the trigger. He can shoot it today. He can shoot it tomorrow. He can pull it next the week. The forces are there if he wants to renew the aggression against Ukraine.”
Asked why the Russians would pretend to withdraw when government intelligence, commercial satellite photos and social media the videos showed no evidence of that, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, “It’s the Russian playbook, to paint a picture publicly… while they do the opposite.”
Maxar Technologies, a commercial satellite imagery company that monitors Russia’s buildup, reported that new photos show Russian intensified military activity near Ukraine, including construction of a pontoon bridge in Belarus within 6 kilometers (4 miles) of the Ukrainian border.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance also had seen “no withdrawal of Russian forces”, as some European governments have done. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also rejected Russian claims.
“What is it? Rotations, dropouts, comebacks back again,” he said on a visit to the southeast city of Mariupol. “It’s too early to rejoice.”
Ukrainian leader, who tried several times to project calm and force during the crisis, said Wednesday one day of “national unity” – a day that had been presented as a possibility for the start of a invasion.
“We are united by the desire to be happy live in peace,” Zelenskyy told the nation in an address. “We can defend our home only if we stay united.
Across the country, Ukrainians of all ages waved flags in the streets and the apartment windows.
Hundreds of people unfurled a 200-metre (650ft) flag at Kyiv’s Olympic Stadium, while another was draped in the center of A mall in the capital.
In the government- controlled part of Eastern Ukraine region of Luhansk, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian troops since 2014, residents stretched another huge flag on a street.
“This eventThis number of people united around the Ukrainian flag will be show that we stay for United Ukraine,” said resident Olena Tkachova.
A 2015 deal brokered by France and Germany helped end the worst of the fights in eastern Ukraine, but implementation has stalled. The deal, known as the Minsk agreement, would provide a broad auto-rule to the separatist territories and is therefore felt by many in Ukraine.
A Ukrainian government official noted in a TV interview that Zelensky would consider holding a referendum on the Minsk agreement “if there is no other options or implements. But Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said she was unaware such an idea was being seriously discussed.
The UN Security Council is due to hold its annual meeting on the minsk agreement on Thusday. Russia, which holds the rotating presidency of the Council this month, will chair the meeting. AT last year board meeting, Russia clashed with the United States and its Western allies over the dispute in eastern Ukraine and a similar, although probably wider, confrontation is expected this year.
Putin has signaled he wants peace path out of crisis. His country has repeatedly complained that the United States and NATO have not responded satisfactorily in writing to his security concerns. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Moscow was in the final phase of preparing its official response to the West.
“After that, a schedule of any further steps will be developed,” she said on state television.
This seems to be another indication that the Kremlin is determined to keep up pressure for some time. Russian fighter jets carried out training missions over neighboring Belarus, and paratroopers organized shooting exercises at firing goes in the frame of massive war games that the West feared they could use as a cover for a invasion of Ukraine.
Forward of a visit to Kiev, British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Thursday said Russia could drag out the Ukrainian crisis for “month” in a challenge to Western unity. Truss savvy of “significant economic costs for Russia” if it invaded, adding that it would make it “inadmissible” for son lucrative Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Europe moving forward.
“There are currently no evidence that the Russians are withdrawing from border regions close to Ukraine,” Truss wrote. in the Daily Telegraph. She said Moscow “could drag this out much longer in a brazen ploy to spend weeks more – even months – subverting Ukraine and challenging Western unity.
“We can not allow this situation to become a common plague,” she added, according to comments made by Reuters.
the head of British military the intelligence services said on Wednesday evening that “contrary to their assertions, Russia continues to build up military capabilities near Ukraine.
“This includes sightings of additional armored vehicleshelicopters and a field hospital moving towards the borders of Ukraine. Russia has the military Mass in place conduct a invasion of Ukraine,” he said.
Foreign Secretary Truss will leave London on Thursday to visit several Europeans countries in the framework of of diplomatic efforts to deter a Russian invasion of Ukraine. She will meet her Ukrainian and Polish counterparts during visits to the two countries, before attending the Munich Security Conference. in southern germany city on On Saturday.
“Our friends like Ukraine and Poland have lived in constant shadow of such threatening behavior for generations. That’s why we must be inflexible in defense of self-determination and sovereignty,” she wrote.
Russia calls for a ban on Ukraine does not enter NATO, but Truss said “we must preserve the open door of NATO policy and Ukraine’s right to choose its own path.”
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, speaking to Sky News, warned Putin that Moscow’s aggressiveness military Shares in 2014 resulted in more troops on its borders and more defense spending across NATO.
“It’s the strategy error Putin is potentially about to do,” he said. added.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow will send a reply in the USA on the issue of security guarantees on Thursday, the TASS news reports the agency. Moscow will make the letter public, said Lavrov.