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Russian Defense Ministry Announces Troops Return to Permanent Bases, Upsetting NATO, British

Feb. 16, 2022 (EIRNS)—TASS, citing a statement from the Southern Military District, reports this morning that the first motorcade of a logistic support unit has crossed the Crimean Bridge on the way back to its permanent base in the Southern Military District after drills in Crimea. Also the Defense Ministry reported that a train carrying combat vehicles and other heavy equipment crossed the bridge this morning. Once back at the permanent bases, the military equipment will be maintained and prepared for the next round of combat training, the Defense Ministry said. These movements followed the announcement yesterday by Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov that Russian troops would be returning to their garrisons following the completion of exercises.

The responses to Konashenkov’s announcement run from: “they say one thing but are doing the opposite”; to “we’ll believe it when we see it”; to “we helped make it happen.” ABC News posted late yesterday an article claiming that while the Russian Defense Ministry had said some troops were going back home, sources in the Biden administration were telling the news network that the opposite was happening, that they were moving into attack positions. The U.S. believes that Russia now has all the necessary pieces in place, including 150,000 troops in the region, to launch a swift and brutal invasion of Ukraine, the sources added, reported ABC.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, during a press conference yesterday ahead of today’s NATO defense ministers meeting, said, “So far we have not seen any de-escalation on the ground, not seen any signs of reduced Russian military presence on the borders of Ukraine. But we will continue to monitor and to follow closely what Russia is doing.”

Boris Johnson, for his part, accused Russia of sending “mixed signals,” welcoming what he said were “signs of a diplomatic opening,” but warning the latest intelligence was “still not encouraging,” reported CBS News. Johnson said Russian forces were building field hospitals near Ukraine’s borders, and more battalions were moving closer to the borders, which he said, “can only be construed as preparation for an invasion.”

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said that in order to believe Russia’s insistence it has no plans to invade Ukraine, it must remove all its troops amassed near its border with the country. “The Russians have claimed that they have no plans for an invasion, but we will need to see a full-scale removal of troops to show that is true,” she told LBC radio.

The French, meanwhile, see the Russian announcements as vindication of Paris’s own strategy of diplomacy. “If this information is confirmed, this will be pleasant news, a positive signal that would signify the de-escalation we were urging for,” French cabinet spokesman Gabriel Attal said following a session of the Council of Ministers at the Elysée Palace on Feb. 15, reported TASS. “Thus, we were right to support dialogue with Russia,” he remarked, reiterating that “last week the Republic’s President Emmanuel Macron visited Moscow for talks with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.” “Macron put forth an initiative for such a dialogue in order to arrive at the stabilization of the situation and de-escalation,” the official stressed. He observed that “information on troops returning provides an opportunity to continue diplomatic talks.” “France continues to adhere to this path.”

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