RUSSIA has announced it will withdraw some of its troops positioned within reach of Ukraine’s borders in what appears to be the first major step towards de-escalation in weeks of tension.
The move goes contrary to widespread speculation that the country will launch a military action against Ukraine with as many as 130,000 Russian forces already in place around cities like Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea.
“Units of the Southern and Western military districts, having completed their tasks, have already begun loading onto rail and road transport and today they will begin moving to their military garrisons,” a Defense Ministry spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.
“We’ve always said the troops will return to their bases after the exercises are over. This is the case this time as well,” Peskov added.
Russia’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova also said: “February 15, 2022 will go into history as the day western war propaganda failed. They have been disgraced and destroyed without a single shot being fired”.
Reacting to the announcement, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “We won’t believe when we hear, we’ll believe when we see. When we see troops pulling out, we’ll believe in de-escalation”.
Meanwhile, many governments have called on their citizens to leave Ukraine temporarily and some countries have begun withdrawing observers with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
Chairman of the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) Abike Dabiri-Erewa has assured of government’s efforts to ensure the safety and security of all Nigerians in that country, urging them to register with the embassy in Kiev.
Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards European institutions, both NATO and the EU. Its core demand now is for the West to guarantee Ukraine will not join NATO, a defensive alliance of 30 countries.
Ukraine shares borders with both the EU and Russia, but as a former Soviet republic it has deep social and cultural ties with Russia, and Russian is widely spoken there.