On Tuesday, in a national address from the White House President Biden said the United States has not yet decided whether some Russian military units are moving back from the border of Ukraine and returning to their bases, despite claims by senior Russian officials.
But from the mixed signals coming from MOSCOW, Washington and Europe leaders were cautiously optimistic that war may have been averted, at least for now.
Biden said “That would be good” if Russia has moved back its forces, “but we have not yet verified that.” “Indeed,” he cautioned, “our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position.” He also said that Russia had more than 150,000 troops around Ukraine, up significantly from some previous estimates of about 130,000, and noted that “an invasion remains distinctly possible.”
Biden’s remarks were a shift, however, from his administration’s most dire warnings, with national security adviser Jake Sullivan said last week that a Russian attack could be imminent.
It was gathered that Biden repeated that Russia would face potentially crippling sanctions and also a planned pipeline that will bring natural gas to Germany “will not happen” if the Russian President ordered his forces into Ukraine.
Biden also reiterated his pledge not to send U.S. military service members to fight in Ukraine.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Brussels earlier in the day that, while he saw no evidence of a “significant and enduring” withdrawal of Russian forces that would signal Moscow was ratcheting down tensions, “there are signs from Moscow that diplomacy should continue.”
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After the Russian president signaled Monday that he was open to diplomacy, there was an announcement from MOSCOW that some Russian forces were being sent home after completing drills, even though the major military exercises continued near Ukraine.
It was said that on Tuesday in a joint conference with the visiting German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, the Russian president said Russia’s military leadership “decided on partial withdrawal of troops” from the places where military exercises were taking place.
As it was gathered, the Russian military announced that some units from its Western Military District and Southern Military District were loading equipment onto rail cars to return to base after completing military exercises, in line with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s report to Putin on Monday that some drills were ending and others would end soon.
The Russian President Putin also maintained Russia’s tough rhetoric and military pressure on Ukraine, accusing the Ukrainians — in what has become a frequent and false charge — of committing “genocide” in two Russian-backed separatist zones in eastern Ukraine. He also stated that Ukraine had breached a 2015 deal to bring peace to that region. U.S. and European officials say Russia has not honored its commitments under the deal.
It was stated that in a continuing flurry of diplomatic activity, Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Tuesday by phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Biden spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron, U.S. officials said.
It was said as the senior leader discussed the crisis, some banking and government websites in Ukraine came under attack, Some online functions were interrupted at Privatbank and one of the most widely used retail banks in Ukraine also at Oschadbank, but the services were restored, Ukrainian security officials said.
The Ukrainian Defense Ministry and armed forces’ websites were also attacked. Analysts have warned that Russian cyberattacks could precede a conventional military attack, but it was not yet clear who was behind the attacks on the Ukrainian websites.
The U.S President also said that “if Russia attacks the United States or our allies through … disruptive cyberattacks against our companies or critical infrastructure, we are prepared to respond.”
It was gathered in his news conference with Scholz, Putin said Russia does not want war and is willing to talk to the United States and NATO about security guarantees demanded by Russia, but only if its main concerns are central to negotiations. Those include Moscow’s calls for an end to NATO expansion and the removal of NATO forces and equipment from Eastern Europe.
According to a report, the United States and NATO have said the alliance’s open-door policy is nonnegotiable, but they have offered proposals on arms control and limiting military exercises while setting up mechanisms for greater transparency in the NATO-Russia relationship.
It was stated that Scholz said NATO’s enlargement was not on the agenda, but Putin countered that the alliance might admit Ukraine down the line.
“That’s why we want to resolve this matter now, right now, in the near future, during negotiations, by peaceful means,” Vladimir Putin said.
“We have been told for 30 years that NATO is not going to expand a single inch toward Russia’s borders, and today we see NATO infrastructure right on our doorstep,” he said.
Russia’s military stated on Tuesday that more than 30 of its naval vessels were carrying out a live-fire exercise in the Black Sea, with aircraft taking part, in preparation for a “major” naval exercise that Russia’s naval commander would supervise.
The military said there were also announcements about drills in other regions: Russian fighter jets armed with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles and long-range bombers flew more than 900 miles to deploy at Russia’s Hmeimim base in Syria ahead of Russian drills in the Mediterranean Sea, Additionally, 20 Northern Fleet ships were involved in Barents Sea exercises.
It was said in an annual assessment, Estonia’s foreign intelligence service noted that “military pressure” and “threats of war” have become the main foreign policy tools for Russia. Even if the current crisis abates, the report said, Estonia and other Western countries “must prepare for increasingly sustained military pressure from Russia.”
Also gathered in a report, Estonia also estimated that Russia has mobilized 150,000 troops on the Ukrainian border, marking the “single largest military buildup by Russia in the past 30 years.” The Estonian assessment also warned of the possibility that Russia will continue to maintain a rotating force group on Belarusian territory, which borders three NATO nations. The assessment said,” This would harm the wider security situation in the Baltic Sea region and for NATO, reducing the preparation time for an attack against the Baltic states,”.
According to a report, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine would wait to see whether Russia was serious about drawing down its forces before concluding that Russia was moving to de-escalate.
It was gathered that Ukrainian officials noted that, after a military buildup on Ukraine’s borders last spring, Russia withdrew its forces but left significant amounts of military equipment in place.
Kyiv remained quiet and open for business Tuesday. While there was no sense of panic, an increasing number of foreign residents were deciding to leave. Robert Grant, 57, an American banker, was on his way to the airport for a flight to Montreal.
He does not predict an invasion, but his wife, a Ukrainian surgeon, is pregnant, and they decided to leave just in case.
According to a report, Grant said “I don’t want to have a baby in a war zone,”, who has lived in Ukraine for almost 30 years. “We were planning to leave anyway to have the baby, but we decided to go now.”