Russia has backed away from a military invasion of Ukraine. But Biden warned that the U.S is still prepared to go ahead with its plans if Russia does not pull back, which he said may happen sooner rather than later.,
Russia’s President Vladimir V. Putin said that he intends to continue discussions with the West and that some of Russia’s soldiers would be withdrawn from Ukraine’s border. Officials from the United States said they were still assessing Russia’s military moves. CreditCredit… Sergey Guneev took this shot of the pool.
MOSCOW, Russia — President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Tuesday that Russia had decided to “partially withdraw troops,” and the Russian Defense Ministry announced that some troops from military districts bordering Ukraine had been sent back to their garrisons, indicating that Moscow may be backing away from the threat of invasion.
The declaration was the clearest indication yet that Russia is attempting to de-escalate the military stalemate near the Ukrainian border, but the prospect of conflict is far from over. Military experts cautioned that without further information, it was too early to draw clear judgments about any troop reduction.
Only a day before, American authorities warned that an invasion was impending as they closed the US Embassy in Kyiv. On Tuesday afternoon, President Biden addressed the situation in Ukraine from the White House’s East Room, saying that “an invasion remains obviously plausible.”
Mr. Putin said earlier in the day, when chatting at the Kremlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, that Russia will continue to press for its key goals of a reduction of NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe and a promise that Ukraine would never join the alliance.
“We are also willing to continue on the negotiation route,” Mr. Putin added, “but all of these issues, as has been indicated previously, must be evaluated holistically.”
Later, at a press conference with German media, Mr. Scholz expressed disappointment that the impasse has continued, given that Ukraine’s potential NATO membership — a “red line” for the Kremlin — is “not on the table.” NATO nations have made it plain that Ukraine would not be considered for years, and Ukraine’s president intimated this week that the country’s membership ambitions may be negotiated.
Mr. Scholz said, “Everyone must take a step back here and make it obvious to themselves that we simply cannot have a potential military clash over a topic that is not on the table.”
“It is an issue of leadership capacity for everyone engaged — in Russia, Ukraine, and NATO — to ensure that we don’t have an absurd scenario,” he continued, since “everybody involved” knows that to be true.
Some soldiers have been transferred back to their home bases, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, but large-scale military training will continue. Officials from the United States indicated they were still evaluating Russia’s troop announcement. CreditCredit… Reuters/Sergey Pivovarov
Despite Mr. Putin’s declaration of a troop withdrawal, Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, said that several military drills that have sparked concerns of an assault on Ukraine will continue, notably in Belarus and the Black Sea.
Officials from the United States said they were still evaluating Russia’s military announcement, while NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said members of the alliance “have not seen any evidence of de-escalation.” Mr. Stoltenberg pointed out that Russia had shifted soldiers previously while keeping heavy weaponry in place.
Mr. Putin’s remarks, though, contributed to evidence that Moscow is ready to pursue its goals via dialogue rather than taking military action right now. Mr. Putin answered with a small grin when asked how Russia will go next: “According to the plan.”
“The result does not simply rely on us,” he stated.
Mr. Putin said, “We want to and will attempt to establish consensus with our partners on the concerns that we outlined in order to settle them diplomatically.”
On Tuesday, MPs in the Kremlin-backed lower house of Parliament pushed Mr. Putin to recognize separatist entities in eastern Ukraine as autonomous, giving Moscow more influence in any discussions. This sparked worries that Russia will exploit the recognition to send additional troops into the region.
Mr. Putin said at the press conference that he would not recognize their independence right away.
The soldiers mentioned as being pulled back are from the military districts closest to Ukraine, implying that even if they are moved back to their bases, they would stay quite near to the nation. According to the statement, soldiers arriving in the area from farther out — Siberia and Russia’s Far East — would stay near Ukraine for the time being.
Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said there was cause to be wary of Moscow’s assertions. During a video conference from Kyiv, he told reporters, “When we witness the withdrawal, we will trust in de-escalation.”