May 24, 2022

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Russia pulls troops from Ukraine border

(Moscow) On Tuesday, Russia ordered the withdrawal of its troops stationed near the Ukrainian border, the first sign of a relaxation, whose presence has raised fears of an invasion for weeks, in the wake of Russian-Western tensions.

Released at 6:17 p.m.
Updated at 7:37 p.m.

Antoine Lambroskini with Olga Netbeva in Kiev
French Media Company

Shortly before German Chancellor Olaf Scholes met with Vladimir Putin on the crisis, the Kremlin stationed more than 100,000 men for several weeks near the pro-Western country of Ukraine seeking to return to its sphere of influence.

The Russian president noted that their meeting would be largely devoted to “ongoing discussions on security and this issue, especially Ukraine,” while the German leader said he was “pleased” with the prospect of good discussions with everyone.

In the morning, the Russian Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that the southern and western military districts, along the border with Ukraine, would “begin to return to their garrisons.”

“We always said after the exercises were over […] The troops will return to their original garrisons. This is what is happening there, this is a normal process, “said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

The number of troops involved in Moscow and the withdrawal schedule are not specified. On the other hand, Mr. Peskov denounced Western “mania”, which states the warlike intentions of the Russians.

The military released footage of tanks being loaded onto freight cars.

However, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that although Moscow had sent “signals” of its dialogue option, there was “no sign of a rise or fall” on the ground.

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“Not smart, not smart”

Russia will continue its maneuvers until February 20 in Ukraine’s neighboring Belarus.

Kiev praised Ukraine and its Union of Western allies for their role. “We were able to prevent further escalation by Russia,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba.

In the streets of Kiev, there was cautious hope.

“There is no panic in the community,” 22-year-old Artem Jalosny told AFP in the capital’s Avenue.

But he can not take Russia’s word for it: “It would not be wise or prudent to fully believe (in increasing or decreasing).”

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Mr. Putin gave the first clarification by suggesting that the dialogue with the West should be deepened, while announcing the end of some maneuvers to his defense minister Sergei Shoy.

Nevertheless, Washington believed that a Russian offensive was imminent, so its embassy in Kiev was abandoned on Monday and relocated to Livy, west of the country.

Dozens of countries have invited their compatriots from Ukraine, despite a plea by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky not to panic.

A Kremlin spokesman denounced the “completely unprecedented” Western propaganda as “tense” and “unsubstantiated hysteria”.

Russia, which already annexed Crimea in 2014, has backed pro-Russian separatists in the eight-year conflict in eastern Ukraine.

On the contrary, it considers itself threatened by NATO’s expansion in Eastern Europe and calls for “security guarantees”, especially the assurance that Ukraine will never join the alliance and withdraw its military infrastructure from Eastern Europe.

Positive answer

These demands were rejected by the West, which offered exchange talks on other issues, such as arms control, mutual visits to critical infrastructure or discussions on Russian security fears.

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Despite these claims being rejected, Mr Lavrov recommended that Vladimir Putin “extend and expand” the dialogue, saying that the response from Westerners on Tuesday was “positive”.

Despite the US media marking Wednesday as the possible day of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian president has continued to urge the international community and its people to remain calm.

He declared February 16 as “Unity Day” and called on the Ukrainians to show their patriotism by wearing the blue and yellow colors of the flag.

At the risk of annoying the Kremlin, Mr. Zhelensky also reiterated on Monday that Kiev would like to join NATO “to guarantee its security.”

But this opportunity is not on the agenda, according to Westerners, if they defend the right of Ukraine to join the coalition, do not set a timetable for members.

Mr. According to Lavrov, if Kiev abandons this ambition, many Europeans will “breathe a sigh of relief.”