The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the return of the units that are deployed near the Ukrainian border to the points of permanent deployment.
According to Russian media, On the morning of February 15, the Russian Armed Forces completed another stage of military exercises in the immediate vicinity of the borders with Ukraine. Units of the Southern and Western military districts began to return to their bases.
At the same time, the official representative of the Ministry of Defense, Igor Konashenkov, said that the large-scale exercises of the Russian troops did not end there. Almost all military districts and fleets continue their planned maneuvers in other regions.
More than 30 ships of the Black Sea Fleet put to sea from Sevastopol and Novorossiysk to participate in large-scale maneuvers off the coast of Syria. Fleet aviation and units of coastal troops are also involved in the exercises. MiG-31K Russian Aerospace Forces fighters with Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, together with Tu-22M3 long-range bombers, also arrived in Syria to participate in joint exercises.
Russian units that take part in the Allied Resolve exercise, together with the Belarusian armed forces, continue to work out a set of actions to repel aggression against the Union State. Commenting on the exercise, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that the military is practicing confrontation with the forces of Poland, the Baltic States and Ukraine.
Gustav Gressel, an analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations, called the withdrawal of part of the troops a good signal. At the same time, he urged to wait for monitoring in order to “see where they go.” The specialist was surprised that the decision to withdraw troops from the borders of Ukraine was made now, since even at the weekend the threat of war looked quite real. At the same time, Gressel pointed to the lack of significant progress in Russia’s negotiations with Europe and the United States and doubted that the Ukrainian crisis would end there.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also said an invasion of Ukraine was still “very likely”. According to her, Moscow will be able to dispel the fears of Western countries only after a full-scale withdrawal of Russian troops from the borders of the neighboring republic.
On the afternoon of February 15, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrived at the Kremlin for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Following the meeting, the head of the German government called the withdrawal of Russian forces a good sign and expressed readiness, together with partners and allies in the European Union and NATO, to talk about steps to strengthen common security. Scholz assured that the dialogue with Russia would be conducted in the spirit of mutual understanding and mutual recognition of the principles agreed upon within the OSCE.
On the evening of February 15, US President Joe Biden issued a statement urging “give diplomacy a chance” but still did not rule out a Russian invasion of Ukraine. He stressed that Washington is not looking for a confrontation with Moscow, but in the event of an attack on the Americans in Ukraine, the United States will respond harshly.
At the same time, he added that the United States is ready to fix written security agreements with Russia if they are reached. “We are ready to continue high-level diplomacy to achieve mutual understanding in writing between the Russian Federation, the United States and the countries of Europe,” he said.
“We do not threaten the Russians and do not want destabilization in Russia. I appeal to the citizens of Russia – you are not our enemies. And I do not believe that anyone wants a bloody and destructive war against Ukraine,” the American leader added.