Putin sends 7,000 troops to Ukraine border, despite claims Russia is withdrawing troops
17 February 2022, 00:45
The foreign minister is due to deliver a speech in Ukraine this week as intelligence reveals Russia has added up to 7,000 troops near the Ukrainian border.
Contrary to claims by President Vladimir Putin that troops would be withdrawn from the region, a senior Biden administration official said up to 7,000 additional Russian troops had been deployed near the Ukrainian border in recent days.
The official said there had been a marked increase in false claims by Russians, including reports of unmarked graves of civilians who were allegedly killed by Ukrainian armed forces, claims that the US United and Ukraine were developing biological or chemical weapons, and says the West is moving towards guerrillas.
The Russian Defense Ministry said troops were returning to base after the end of military exercises near the border, with units leaving Crimea on Wednesday.
Lieutenant General Sir Jim Hockenhull, head of defense intelligence, said there had been sightings of additional armored vehicles, helicopters and a field hospital in the area.
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In a statement on Wednesday evening, he said: “Contrary to their claims, Russia continues to build up its military capabilities near Ukraine.
“This includes sightings of additional armored vehicles, helicopters and a field hospital heading towards Ukraine’s borders. Russia has the military mass in place to lead an invasion of Ukraine.”
Between 130,000 and 150,000 men had previously been estimated at the frontier.
The new intelligence comes ahead of Foreign Minister Liz Truss’ visit to Ukraine this week as diplomatic efforts continue to prevent a war in the region.
The Foreign Minister plans to deliver a speech in the capital Kyiv, where she is expected to stress the principle of national sovereignty and call on Russia to continue diplomacy.
Ms Truss said it was essential not to be “lulled into a false sense of security” by claims from Moscow that it was starting to withdraw its forces from its southern neighbour’s borders.
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The Foreign Office says Ms Truss will travel to Ukraine, Poland and Germany, where she is expected to reiterate the UK’s call on Russia to honor its commitments, respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and warns Moscow that pursuing a course of aggression will result in severe economic sanctions.
During the trip, Ms. Truss will meet her Ukrainian counterpart, Foreign Minister Kuleba and Polish Foreign Minister Rau in a show of unified support for Ukrainian sovereignty.
On Saturday, the Foreign Secretary will then attend the Munich Security Conference, where the Foreign Office said it would strengthen security ties with some of the UK’s key strategic allies.
In a planned speech in the Ukrainian capital, MsTruss is expected to say, “We want to live in a world where people are in control of their own future, free from aggression and coercion, where security is truly indivisible and where nations respect the sovereignty of others and honor their commitments.
“That means working with our friends in Ukraine and beyond to address threats wherever they are in the world.
“I urge Russia to take the path of diplomacy. We are ready to talk. But we are very clear: if they decide to continue on the path of aggression, there will be massive consequences that will lead to serious economic costs for Russia and pariah status.”
Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that the UK embassy in Kyiv would remain open, despite the risk of invasion and decisions by allies to close their diplomatic missions in the capital.