The Foreign Minister of Ukraine welcomed the statement of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation on returning some troops to their garrisons, but said that tensions along the border of the two countries are still high.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has so far been avoided, Kyiv said after reports that Moscow was withdrawing some troops to permanent dislocation points. Ukraine and its allies were able to prevent further escalation by Russia, the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Dmytro Kuleba said on Tuesday, February 15.
At the same time, he stressed that tensions along the borders of Ukraine remain high, and called on the Russian Federation to withdraw the remaining forces from the border regions. According to Kuleba, the Ukrainian authorities will believe in de-escalation only when they see the real withdrawal of Russian troops.
Zelensky’s office warned it will monitor the withdrawal of troops
Meanwhile, the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke positively about the withdrawal of some Russian units that participated in joint military drills with Belarus. These messages are “the right signal,” advisor to the head of the presidential office Mikhail Podolyak told the Ukrainian outlet Liga.net. At the same time, he stressed that the special services of Ukraine and its partners “will closely follow the implementation of steps announced by the Russian military.” “As soon as and if this process is stable, we will immediately see it,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the RF Defense Ministry announced the return of some troops to their garrisons after the military exercises in the west and south of the country. At the same time, the defense ministry’s spokesperson Igor Konashenkov pointed out that a number of units that participated in the “Allied Resolve - 2022” military drills will remain in Belarus for the time being. The Kremlin confirmed the return of part of the Russian troops to their places of deployment, calling it a “standard process.”
Escalation of the conflict with Russia
According to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, the Russian-Belarusian “Allied Resolve - 2022” military exercises are being held during 10-20 February. The drills aim at working out “the tasks of suppressing and repelling external aggression in the course of a defensive operation, as well as countering terrorism and protecting the interests of the Union State.” The number of drill participants was not disclosed, and the Belarusian training grounds Domanovsky, Gozhsky, Obuz-Lesnovsky, Brestsky and Osipovichsky, as well as the airfields of Baranovichi, Luninets, Lida and Machulishchi were indicated as the venues.
The maneuvers are taking place amid a sharply aggravated conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. They were criticized, among others, by the United States, which considers such actions are leading to further escalation. Since the second half of 2021, Russia has amassed more than 100 thousand military personnel in the annexed Crimea and on the Ukrainian border. The January series of talks between Russia and the United States, NATO and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as well as with the leaders of Western countries, failed to bring results. Europe and America are calling on Moscow to withdraw its troops from the Ukrainian border and are threatening unprecedented sanctions. Russia, on the other hand, accuses Western countries of arming Ukraine and conducting maneuvers near the borders of the Russian Federation.