Russia has sent as many as 7,000 troops to the border with the Ukraine said a US official after “false” claims were given that they were withdrawing some soldiers
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Russia has boosted its forces on the Ukrainian border by as many as 7,000 troops, said a US official – despite claims it was withdrawing some soldiers.
A US senior administration official on Wednesday told reporters that Russia’s claim it was withdrawing troops from the border with Ukraine is “false.”
“So yesterday, the Russian government said it was withdrawing troops from the border with Ukraine. They received a lot of attention for that claim, both here and around the world. But we now know it was false,” the official said.
No details were given or evidence was shown for how the US knew this to be the case.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Biden administration has confirmed that “Russia has increased its troop presence along the Ukrainian border by as many as 7,000 troops,” with many of them arriving as recently as Wednesday.
Russia’s defense ministry said on Wednesday its forces were pulling back after exercises near Ukraine, and published video that it said showed forces leaving the Crimean peninsula.
But US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview on MSNBC on Wednesday that “critical units” were moving towards the border.
On Tuesday, US President Joe Biden said the United States estimated that 150,000 Russian troops had encircled Ukraine, an increase from previous estimates of about 100,000.
Russia had said that its forces – part of a huge buildup that has been accompanied by demands to the West for sweeping security guarantees – were pulling back after taking part in exercises in southern and western military districts near Ukraine.
But NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said moving troops and tanks back and forth did not amount to proof of a pullout.
British foreign minister Liz Truss will reaffirm support for Ukrainian sovereignty on a trip to Kyiv this week as part of efforts to deter a possible Russian invasion, urging Moscow to end its military buildup along the border.
Truss will hold talks with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and will then deliver a speech in Kyiv where she will warn Russia it faces economic pain and global isolation if it invades its former Soviet neighbor.
“I urge Russia to take the path of diplomacy. We are ready to talk,” Truss will say, according to extracts of her speech released by her office.
“But we are very clear – if they decide to continue down the path of aggression, there will be massive consequences, bringing Russia severe economic costs and pariah status.”