Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced on Wednesday that additional troops are leaving Crimea near the border with Ukraine, having completed military drills.
It follows yesterday’s claim that some of its troops massed on the Ukrainian border were pulling back.
“Units of the Southern Military District, having completed their participation in tactical exercises, are moving to their permanent deployment points,” the Russian defense ministry said in a statement.
The statement said tanks, other military vehicles, and artillery were leaving Crimea by rail. It did not specify how many troops were leaving.
Footage broadcast on state television appeared to show military units crossing the bridge to leave Crimea, which Russia invaded and annexed in 2014.
NATO calls on Russia to give diplomacy a chance
Defense ministers from the NATO alliance who are taking part in a two-day meeting in Brussels today are expected to discuss options for the Alliance in the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who is chairing the talks, told the media before the meeting that NATO is ready to talk if Russia is willing to give diplomacy a chance.
“We work hard for the best, a peaceful political solution, but we are also prepared for the worst that Russia once again invades Ukraine,” he said.
He added that Russian troop numbers on the border of Ukraine keep going “up and up and up” and continue to increase.
“We really call on them to do what they say and really de-escalate, that is to withdraw forces and that will be their best contribution to reduce tensions and avoid any conflict in Europe.”
Biden: We’re not targeting the people of Russia
Meanwhile, President Biden urged Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday to engage in diplomacy as the world grows increasingly anxious that Russia will invade Ukraine.
Biden addressed Russian citizens directly in a speech delivered from the White House, telling them that the US is not antagonistic towards them and that diplomacy with Russia is still a viable option:
“The United States and NATO are not a threat to Russia, Ukraine is not a threat to Russia. Neither the US nor NATO have missiles in Ukraine. We do not -– do not -– have plans to put them there, as well. We’re not targeting the people of Russia. We do not seek to destabilize Russia. To the citizens of Russia: you are not our enemy.”
He also invoked the history of US and Russian diplomacy all the way back to World War II, noting that the two countries had “fought and sacrificed side by side in the worst war in history.”