Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated on Wednesday that there has been no evidence that Russian troops are pulling back from the Ukraine border, despite claims being made that was indeed going to happen.
A report earlier in the day on Wednesday stated that the TASS news agency stated that Russian forces surrounding Ukraine were withdrawing and troops in the west country would be returning to normal in three to four weeks.
Blinken, making an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” was asked if the United States was seeing any sort of evidence to suggest Russia was pulling back troops.
“We’re not,” Blinken told the show’s host George Stephanopoulos. “Unfortunately, there’s a difference between what Russia says and what it does.”
“What we’re seeing is no meaningful pullback. On the contrary, we continue to see forces, especially forces that would be in the vanguard of any renewed aggressions against Ukraine, continuing to be at the border, to mass at the border,” he said.
Blinken said the U.S. still believed Russia could invade Ukraine at any moment. President Joe Biden said Tuesday there were 150,000 Russian troops amassed to the north, south, and east of Ukraine.
“We said that we were in a window of time in which the invasion could come at any time,” Blinken said to ABC. “President [Vladimir] Putin’s put in place the capacity to act on very short notice. He can pull the trigger. He could pull it today. He could pull it tomorrow. He could pull it next week. The forces are there if he wants to renew aggression against Ukraine.”
Ukrainians raised national flags and played the country’s anthem Wednesday to show unity against fears of a Russian invasion that Western powers have said could be imminent.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there had been no indication of Russian “de-escalation on the ground.”
“On the contrary, it appears that Russia continues the military build-up,” Stoltenberg stated on Wednesday. “And we have not received any response to our written document, our written proposals, that we sent to Russia on the 26th of January.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday that Russia has “grown tired” of listening to “threats,” referring to Biden’s speech on Tuesday.
“We’d prefer not to listen to various sorts of threats as to what would happen to us if we did something that we have no intention of doing,” Peskov said during a chat with reporters.
Blinken also took an opportunity on Wednesday to condemn a vote conducted by Russia’s parliament to call on Putin to recognize two Russian-controlled breakaway regions located in eastern Ukraine as independent.
“Russia’s lower house of parliament voted Tuesday to ask Putin to recognize the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and the European Union told Moscow not to follow through,” the report concluded.