Russian Claims of a Pullback From the Ukraine Border Are Disputed by Western Officials

On Wednesday, the United States blamed Russia for lying regarding withdrawing troops from Ukraine’s borders, stating that in recent days, Moscow has added over 7,000 combatants and that there was fresh evidence it was deploying for war.

A senior administration official made the assertion, who talked to reporters on Wednesday evening since other Western allies highlighted similar speculations that Russia was stepping back from a military confrontation.

The senior Biden administration official, who talked on the condition of anonymity to talk on recent intelligence discoveries, stated intelligence officials have revealed that the troop surge persisted on Wednesday, following President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia announced that with exercises over, some troops were heading back to barracks.

On Wednesday, British military officials also stated that they had seen Russian armored vehicles, helicopters, and a field hospital proceeding toward Ukraine’s border.

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Russia Continues to Build Up Military Abilities

In a statement, Lt. Gen. Jim Hockenhull, the British chief of defense intelligence said “Contrary to their claims, Russia continues to build up military capabilities near Ukraine,” adding further “Russia has the military mass in place to conduct an invasion of Ukraine.”

If appropriate, the Biden administration’s assertion would recommend that the expectations in the last 48 hours that Russia was drifting toward a diplomatic solution to the crisis may have been early.

But it also lays the United States yet again at direct opposition with Mr. Putin’s government, amidst new cautions from Washington that the world should anticipate that Moscow will try to form an incident that could be the excuse for rolling out an attack.

The American official provided no schedule for Russian action. But he declined assertions by Mr. Putin that there has been a decline in troops.

The official said “They received a lot of attention for that claim both here and around the world,” adding “But we now know it was false.”

On Wednesday, at the Pentagon, analysts were brooding over new satellite imagery and other intelligence.

Ukraine Border
Ukraine Border

Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has been in person engaged in drilling down on a set of probable Russian attack scenarios, officials stated, pushing analysts for information like the location and combat vigilance of definite ground units, ship movements and the plans of those forces. General Milley habitually updates President Biden on the fast-moving developments, officials confirmed.

On Tuesday, Mr. Biden stated there were “over 150,000” Russian troops on Ukraine’s borders. It was not precise whether that number added to the 7,000 who the administration said on Wednesday night were moving into the area, even as satellite pictures show some troops in the area around Crimea, which Mr. Putin annexed in 2014, ultimately pulling out to nearby bases.

The official also stated that in recent days the U.S. had come by incorrect claims from Russia regarding NATO activities, fake reports of unmarked graves of civilians in Eastern Ukraine reportedly murdered by Ukrainian forces and asserts that the United States and its allies are making chemical or biological weapons.

The official said “Each of these allegations is categorically false,” adding “And we should expect more false reports from Russian state media over the coming days.”

The official stated Russian statements of a wish to involve in diplomacy should not be taken at face value.

The official said, “Their actions indicate otherwise.”

Earlier on Wednesday, in an interview with ABC News, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken stated that Russian troops keep on to “mass at the border.”

Mr. Blinken said “Unfortunately there’s a difference between what Russia says and what it does,” adding “And what we’re seeing is no meaningful pullback.”

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Russian Troops on the Border Seemed to Be Larger Than Previous Public Estimates

On Wednesday, Mikk Marran, the director-general of the Estonian Foreign Intelligence Service, also stated that the Russian troops on the border seemed to be larger than previous public estimates, which had been around 130,000 troops before Mr. Biden put the number at more than 150,000.

Mr. Marran said “The Russian Armed Forces are ready to attack at any moment. We are counting around 150,000 to 170,000 troops,” adding “Russia has the full combat support system needed for action in place. And we also see that the Air Force and the Black Sea Fleet are ready to support the attack.”

The new proof of build-up emerged as European diplomats and leaders, including Mr. Blinken and Vice President Kamala Harris, set to accumulate in Munich for the annual Munich Security Conference, generally one of the premier diplomatic gatherings of the year. But this year it will be led by the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

The official said Ms. Harris is scheduled to meet President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine in Munich this weekend, although some European officials stated they were careful about the Ukrainian president exiting from the nation when the U.S. and Britain have stated that the Russians are picking out candidates they could install in his place.

No Russian Officials to Attend the Conference

Russia generally delivers a large delegation to the conference. But this year Moscow has said that there will be no Russian officials. It would otherwise be the natural place for American officials to attempt to look for an off-ramp to the crisis with their Russian counterparts.

The Kremlin spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, declined NATO’s evaluation of troop levels, stating the alliance had not made “a sober evaluation” of the situation.

On Wednesday, Russia’s Defense Ministry declared more force removals, stating that a train packed with Russian tanks, armored vehicles, and howitzers left Crimea and would come back to their bases after ending military exercises.

A clip from the ministry had a train packed with armored vehicles crossing into mainland Russia from Crimea, heading across a vast bridge built to link Crimea and Russia after it annexed the peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.

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