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No retreat by Russia troops, situation on the border still the same

Members of the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service keep watch at the Kliusy checkpoint near the frontier with Russia in the Chernihiv region, Ukraine February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

Western countries have proposed arms control and confidence-building steps for Russia at Ukraine’s border. The countries have even advised their citizens to leave Ukraine because an attack could occur at any time. Russia denies any intention of invading.

The news: The Western countries warned on Wednesday that Russia’s military presence at Ukraine’s border is growing, as Estonia said battle groups were moving ahead of a likely attack to occupy “key terrain,” contradicting Moscow’s insistence on a pullback.

  • The western reports even suggest, more armoured vehicles, helicopters, and a field hospital have been spotted.
  • This was revealed by Britain’s defense intelligence chief, who spoke publicly for the first time.
  • Up to 7,000 more troops have moved to the border in recent days, with some arriving on Wednesday, according to a senior official in US President Joe Biden’s administration, who did not provide evidence.
  • World powers are embroiled in one of the most serious crises in East-West relations in decades.
  • This could be a post-Cold War influence, as Russia seeks to prevent Ukraine from joining the NATO military alliance.
A view shows a freight train transporting Russian military vehicles, which leave the Crimean peninsula towards the Russian mainland along a railway bridge across the Kerch Strait, in this still image taken from video released February 16, 2022. Russian Defence Ministry/Handout via REUTERS
A vessel of the Russian Navy is seen through a flock of birds in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol, Crimea February 16, 2022. REUTERS/Alexey Pavlishak

What’s going on: According to Mikk Marran, director general of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, Estonian intelligence is aware of around ten battle groups of troops moving toward the Ukrainian border. It is estimated that about 170,000 soldiers have already been deployed.

  • On Wednesday, Russia’s defense ministry revealed that its forces are withdrawing, following exercises in southern and western military districts near Ukraine. Meanwhile, Moscow’s ambassador to Ireland insisted forces in western Russia would be back to normal positions within three to four weeks.
  • Russia even released a video that showed tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and self-propelled artillery units leaving the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
  • But NATO military commanders are developing plans for new combat units that could be deployed in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Slovakia, according to diplomats.
  • As part of the NATO deployment, Britain is also planning to double its force in Estonia and send tanks and armoured fighting vehicles to the small Baltic republic bordering Russia.
A satellite image shows a view of artillery and equipment at a railyard in Brest, Belarus, February 16, 2022. Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS
A satellite image shows battle group equipment at the Kursk training area, Russia, February 14, 2022. Picture taken February 14, 2022. Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS
REFILE – CORRECTING DATE A satellite image shows a close up of a field hospital at the Osipovichi training area in Belarus, February 14, 2022. Picture taken February 14, 2022. Maxar Technologies/Handout via REUTERS

What are they saying: “That is what Russia claims. Then there’s Russia’s behaviour. And we haven’t seen any retreat of its forces, either. We continue to see critical units moving toward the border rather than away from it,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

  • The Estonian foregin intelligence have even said that the attack would include missile bombardment and the occupation of key terrain. If Russia is successful in Ukraine, it will be encouraged to increase pressure on the Baltics in the coming years. The threat of war has become Putin’s main policy tool.
With Moscow announcing a partial pull back of troops, could the crisis in Ukraine be nearing an end? The West doesn’t think so
NATO Defence ministers convened for a meeting on Wednesday (February 16) as the military alliance accuses Russia of sending more troops to a massive military build-up around Ukraine, even as Moscow said that it was withdrawing forces and was open to diplomacy
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