German Defence Minister urges scepticism towards Russian claims of a troop withdrawal
German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht has warned that recent Russian claims that it was withdrawing troops from Ukraine’s borders and occupied Crimea should be treated with scepticism, according to German daily newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung.
“We saw that this week, there were the first signs that the Russian side is ready to contribute to the de-escalation. But these words should not be treated with naivety,” she said in Brussels on Feb. 17.
The Russian Ministry of Defence said on Feb. 15 that regiments from the Western and Southern Military Districts would be returning to their bases following the completion of military exercises at the Ukrainian border. However, many experts and governments have noted that no such withdrawal has been observed.
Lambrecht stressed that words must be followed by actions – and that Western countries have not yet seen these actions.
“Based on the available information, we cannot establish that the withdrawal of (troops) has actually happened… So far there have been only words, there are no actions yet,” the German defence minister said.
Russia has been building up its military presence along the Ukrainian border since the end of October 2021. According to Ukrainian Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov, there are a total of 140,000 troops along Ukrainian borders from Russia, Belarus and non-government-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
In parallel, the Russian Federation is conducting military exercises near the eastern borders of Ukraine, in the occupied Crimea, in Belarus and in the Black Sea. Some partner countries believe that in fact, the Kremlin regime is using these exercises as cover while the stage an invasion.
U.S. President Joe Biden not that the Russian Federation is not withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border, and instead is continuing its build-up.
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