More Western skepticism about Russia’s troop drawdown from Ukraine’s borders, but the US says there’s still room for diplomacy.
Despite Russia announcing a pullback of some of its troops stationed around Ukraine’s borders and welcoming further talks with the West, the United States and its allies have said they need evidence of the troop movements and warned that the threat of a Russian invasion still looms.
President Joe Biden said Washington had not verified Moscow’s withdrawal of forces. “Our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position,” he said, adding, however, there was still room for diplomacy to solve the crisis.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has declared Wednesday – the day some US reports suggested an incursion could be launched – “a day of unity”. He has called on Ukraine’s citizens to display national flags and don blue and yellow ribbons in order to demonstrate the country’s “unity to the whole world”.
Here are the latest updates:
Ukraine’s defence ministry reports ongoing ‘unprecedented’ cyberattack on its web portal
Ukraine’s defense ministry says its web portal has been hit by an unprecedented denial of service cyberattack that is still ongoing.
The ministry said hackers had succeeded in finding vulnerabilities in the programming code of the portal. Traffic was being rerouted to servers in the US while the issue was being fixed, it said.
The issue was first reported on Tuesday when a series of cyberattacks knocked the Ukrainian army and major banks offline, officials in the country said.
Russia says video shows military equipment leaving Crimea
Russia’s defence ministry has released video footage that it says shows a column of tanks and military vehicles leaving annexed Crimea after drills, adding that some troops would also return to their permanent bases.
“Combat equipment and military personnel will be delivered by military trains to the units’ permanent deployment points,” the ministry said. “Upon arrival, the equipment will be serviced and prepared for carrying out the next phase of combat training.”
The video, published by Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency, showed dozens of military vehicles crossing a railway bridge at night. Moscow seized the Crimean Peninsula from Kyiv in early 2014.
UK says no evidence of Russian withdrawal from Ukraine’s border
The United Kingdom is yet to seen any evidence that Russia is withdrawing troops from positions near the Ukrainian border, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has said.
“We haven’t seen any evidence at the moment of that withdrawal,” Wallace told the UK’s Times Radio. “We’ll take Russia at its word, but we will judge them on their actions,” he added.
Russia announces end of Crimea military drills, troops leaving
Russia said military drills in Moscow-annexed Crimea had ended and that soldiers were returning to their garrisons, a day after it announced a first troop pullback from Ukraine’s borders.
“Units of the Southern Military District, having completed their participation in tactical exercises, are moving to their permanent deployment points,” Moscow’s defence ministry said in a statement, as state television showed images of military units crossing a bridge linking the Russian-controlled peninsula to the mainland.
China may take advantage of Ukraine crisis, US general warns
US General Kenneth Wilsbach, the head of US Pacific Air Forces, has said that China might do something “provocative” in Asia while the Western world is preoccupied with the Ukraine crisis.
“From the standpoint of will China see what’s happening in Europe and … try to do something here in the Indo-Pacific – absolutely yes, that’s a concern,” Wilsbach said, using an alternative term for the Asia-Pacific region.
Beijing has aligned itself with Moscow amid the current crisis.