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NATO sees no sign Russia is pulling back troops near Ukraine amid threat of invasion

Russia Syria Drills Ukraine threat
Posted at 7:32 AM, Feb 16, 2022

MOSCOW — Russia says it is returning more troops and weapons to bases, but NATO says it sees no sign of a drawdown as fears that Moscow could soon invade Ukraine persist.

Russia has massed about 150,000 troops east, north and south of Ukraine. That sparked Western concerns it was planning an attack.

Moscow denies it has any such plans, and this week it said it was pulling back some forces and weapons, though it gave few details. Russian leader Vladimir Putin also made comments Tuesday that he plans to keep communication channels open and is ready to discuss security measures with NATO and the U.S.

Those claims have been met with skepticism from the U.S. and its allies, but they also seemed to lower the temperature following weeks of tensions.

NATO said Wednesday it does not see any sign that Moscow is decreasing its troop levels in and around Ukraine.

Ukraine's cybersecurity agency also said Tuesday it's experienced denial-of-service cyberattacks against the Ministry of Defense and two top banks, raising questions about Russia's involvement.

In comments from the White House on Wednesday, President Joe Biden urged Russia not to levy an attack against Ukraine.

"Russia, you are not our enemy, and I do not believe you want a bloody destructive war against Ukraine," Biden said on Tuesday.

The U.S. has ordered thousands of troops toward Ukraine in recent weeks as Russia has grown more aggressive in its stance. The Pentagon says those troops were not being sent to fight but to reassure allies.

In denying his intention to attack Ukraine, Putin has proposed measures he says will improve security in Europe, including a promise not to extend an invitation to join NATO to Ukraine and the removal of the alliance's troops from Eastern Europe. The U.S. has said those proposals are nonstarters.

As a compromise, U.S. diplomats have suggested removing some long-range missiles from the region.