Russia misled world, added 7K troops near Ukraine: NATO
   Date :18-Feb-2022

 Videograb released by Russian Defence Ministry shows Russian tanks are loaded onto railway platforms to move back to their
permanent base in Russia. Russia says it is returning more troops and weapons to bases. (AP/PTI)
Maxar Technologies reported continued heightened military activity near Ukraine, including a new pontoon bridge and a new field hospital in Belarus Moscow had several times said this week that some forces are pulling back to their bases
NATO allies accused Russia of misleading the world by saying it was returning some troops to bases, reporting that Moscow has instead added as many as 7,000 more forces near its tense border with Ukraine. The alliance warned on Thursday that the buildup has only strengthened its resolve. After a handful of positive signals from Russia that eased tensions earlier in the week, the pendulum appeared to be swinging in the opposite direction again. The NATO chief welcomed Kremlin offers to keep pursuing diplomatic solutions, but he and others warned that the US-led alliance has still seen no sign of the military withdrawal that Moscow announced.
“We have seen the opposite of some of the statements. We have seen an increase of troops over the last 48 hours, up to 7,000,” said British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace ahead of a meeting of the western alliance in Brussels. “We are deadly serious,” he added, “and we’re going to face the threat that is currently being posed.” That squared with what a US administration official said Wednesday. Russia has massed an estimated 150,000-plus troops near it ex-Soviet neighbour, sparking concerns that an attack is imminent. None materialised Wednesday, as feared, and Ukrainians spent the day defiantly celebrating their unity and resolve to face down any Russian threat. Moscow said several times this week that some forces are pulling back to their bases, but it gave virtually no details that would allow an independent assessment and Western leaders quickly cast doubt on those statements.
On Thursday, NATO allies knocked down the Russian assertions again — and warned that they are ready to counter any aggression. “The consequences of this mass buildup – nearly 60% of Russia’s land combat forces on the border of a sovereign nation – will get you the opposite effect,” Wallace said. Russia denies it is plotting an invasion but says, it must be allowed to protect it security interests. It wants the West to keep Ukraine and other former Soviet nations out of NATO, halt weapons deployments near Russian borders and roll back forces from Eastern Europe. The US and its allies have roundly rejected those demands, but they offered to engage in talks with Russia on ways to bolster security in Europe. Even as Russia seemed to try to lower the temperature this week, the Western allies maintained that the threat of an attack remained high. Maxar Technologies, a commercial satellite imagery company that has been monitoring the Russian buildup, reported continued heightened military activity near Ukraine, including a new pontoon bridge and a new field hospital in Belarus. It also said that some forces had left an airfield in country, a Russian ally, but it was unclear where they went.
A senior US administration official said some forces arrived only recently and that there had been a marked increase in false claims by Russians that the Kremlin might use as pretext for an invasion. The official said those claims included reports of unmarked graves of civilians allegedly killed by Ukrainian forces, assertions that the US and Ukraine are developing biological or chemical weapons, and claims that the West is funnelling in guerrillas to kill Ukrainians. Invasion can happen anytime now: WH: A RUSSIAN invasion of Ukraine can happen anytime now, the White House said on Wednesday as President Joe Biden announced plans to dispatch Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Tony Blinken to attend the Munich conference to meet world leaders and unite them against Moscow.